Good self-care is taking steps daily, even hourly, to stay replenished with the energy and positive attitude needed to be productively creative.
One way is to slow down or shift our thinking about having “too much to do.”
Entrepreneur coach Molly Gordon writes about this kind of shift:
“The act of making something new makes us vulnerable.”
That is a comment by artist and creative business consultant Lisa Sonora Beam, who writes in her book “The Creative Entrepreneur” about the variety of challenges that creative people face in developing a piece of artwork, a small business, or themselves as a writer or other artist – the central element of a creative endeavor.
She notes people may “experience a kind of mythic divide” between their creative work and business practicalities.
“This split can create tension and even trauma for the creative soul who is blessed with passion and purpose yet cursed by the seemingly mysterious realm of strategies and skills that are necessary to make an idea real.”
She notes that her book “addresses the three main issues that can result in creative business failure: emotional and psychological blockages, faulty thinking about the creative process, and a lack of practical business knowledge.”
One approach she finds very helpful for herself and clients is visual journaling:
“It is one of the most powerful tools I know to gain insight, solve problems, and explore new ideas without the pressure to produce a product… it is an appealing and unique vehicle for entrepreneurial explorations.
“If you have trouble with the word journal, call it a sketchbook or a notebook. Sketches and notes are never confused with the work they ultimately inspire.”
As a child or teenager, we were perhaps more freely creative, but as supposed “grown-ups” we face fears and uncertainties about our talents, or the marketplace value of a particular form of expression, or what our investing in a project means – both for us, and others.
Some forms of creative work may have structures and guidelines to follow, at least during some stages, but at some point the venture is, well, creative. You need to make things up.
There can be many inner threats and challenges to all these aspects of creating.
Author Milli Thornton describes one example: a CPA who kept shutting off his dream to write.
“At any time I still expect that the no-talent police will come and arrest me.” Actor, writer, director Mike Myers
Many talented and creative people experience impostor feelings and beliefs about themselves, despite their accomplishments.
Valerie Young, Ed.D. is an expert on impostor syndrome and commented in an Entrepreneur magazine article: “Millions of people, from entrepreneurs to celebrities, have a hard time internalizing their accomplishments.”
The article author notes “the impostor syndrome is especially common among people who become successful quickly or early, and among outsiders, such as women in male-dominated industries.”
Dr. Young adds, “They explain away their success as luck or timing. They feel this sense of waiting for the other shoe to drop.”
From Fake It Until You Make It: How to Believe in Yourself When You Don’t Feel Worthy by Nadia Goodman.
One example is actor Emma Watson, who commented about its impact for her:
“It’s almost like the better I do, the more my feeling of inadequacy actually increases, because I’m just going, Any moment, someone’s going to find out I’m a total fraud, and that I don’t deserve any of what I’ve achieved.
“I can’t possibly live up to what everyone thinks I am and what everyone’s expectations of me are.”
[See Part 1]
Many artists use creative expression to explore and express pain in life, but does creative work itself have to be painful for most of us?
Frida Kahlo painted a series of self-portraits as a depiction of the years of treatment (including orthopedic appliances) she had to endure after a devastating spinal cord injury as a teenager.
See more in article: Pain and suffering and developing creativity.
Creativity coach and author Julia Cameron comments on part of the challenge of being actively creative:
“Creativity involves process, and process involves change. The truism we often hear is that we often resist change because change is difficult or change is painful.
“This is not quite accurate. It is the resistance to change that is difficult or painful. In the same way, it is the resistance to our creativity that causes us to equate it with suffering.”
“If I hadn’t visualized playing athletes, I wouldn’t have gotten ‘Major League.’ If I hadn’t visualized playing a president, David Palmer never would have happened.”
Creating visualizations of what you want to accomplish can be a powerful strategy for achievement, according to many writers, coaches and research studies.
Perhaps the most research has been about athletes and sport psychology, but artists can use the techniques and approaches as well.
Actor Dennis Haysbert has portrayed a variety of dynamic characters in film (such as “Jarhead”) and television (including “24″ and “The Unit”), and says, “I visualize the roles that I want.
“You’ve got to have a sense of what you want to do; otherwise, the universe is just going to throw something at you.”
[TV Guide, July 3-9 2006.]
In her article Awakening the Senses, creativity coach Linda Dessau writes about the book “How to think like Leonardo da Vinci” by Michael Gelb, particularly the “Sensazione” chapter, which Dessau notes “is dedicated to re-awakening and sharpening each of the five senses: sight, sound, smell, taste and touch.”
She adds, “Gelb offers lots of exercises in this chapter to help you awaken your senses. My favourite is ‘Subtle Speculation: The Art of Visualization’.”
In her recent interview with Charlie Rose, Cate Blanchett talks about acting and working with Woody Allen for her latest role in his new movie “Blue Jasmine” – and she refers to the poignant quotes by dancer, choreographer and teacher Martha Graham (1894-1991) about leading a creative life and being an artist, such as these:
“There is a vitality, a life force, a quickening that is translated through you into action, and because there is only one of you in all time, this expression is unique.
Continuing from Part 1 on the topic of recognition: What if your novel remains unpublished, no gallery wants to show your painting, no one seems to want to fund or promote your idea for an app?
What if you never get an Oscar?
[Photo: Colin Firth and Meryl Streep from post We Need Healthy Self Respect to Be More Creative.]
If your creative work of any kind is not applauded or at least acknowledged, does that mean you are not “really” creative?
Cheryl M. Ackerman addresses this idea of recognition specifically for gifted people, but I think her perspectives are helpful even if you were not “labeled” as exceptionally intelligent or creative.
She notes “It is important to remember that just because a person was not identified as gifted when they were in school, doesn’t mean she isn’t a gifted individual.
One reason for discounting our creative abilities is comparing ourselves to other people, especially well-known and successful artists, such as millionaire novelist Dean Koontz.
And myths about artists being “crazy” or “starving” may also influence how much we may be motivated to live a creative life.
But some people need to first get past the insidious idea that they are “not creative.”
“Anyone who says ‘I don’t have a creative bone in my body’ is seriously underestimating their skeleton. More to the point, they are drastically undervaluing their brain.”
Author Steven Pressfield goes on to describe in his book ‘The War of Art’ how this “Resistance” holds people back from being more creative.
In the Foreword, screenwriter and teacher Robert McKee explains Resistance is “his all-encompassing term for what Freud called the Death Wish — that destructive force inside human nature that rises whenever we consider a tough, long-term course of action that might do for us or others something that’s actually good.”
The book emphasizes that confronting creative blocks is an “Inner Creative Battle” against mental varieties of enemy, some of them very subtle, not so clear and definable as an outer foe.