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Confidence and Creating

Assurance, backbone, boldness, brashness, daring – engaging in a creative endeavor takes confidence.

Large scale collaborations like movies often take years to develop, requiring intense commitment on the part of writers and directors and other filmmakers.

A bit of hypomania and creative obsession can help.

Individual creators also need that kind of energy, motivation and confidence to keep working at projects for long periods.

This is a photo of “Fallen Star” by artist Do Ho Suh – a small house, with a sloping floor, installed onto the top floor at the Jacobs School of Engineering at UCSD.

You can see more photos at the Stuart Collection site.

An article notes it took “Fallen Star” seven years to be realized.

Suh, from South Korea and now based primarily in London, presented his concept to the university art collection.

“When our advisory board saw [that] proposal,” recalls Mary Beebe, director of the Stuart Collection, “they said, ‘Go for it,’ half-jokingly, like ‘We dare you to try to do this.'”

From Do Ho Suh’s ‘Fallen Star’ makes home not so comfortable by Leah Ollman, Los Angeles Times, June 14, 2012.

Confidence and Stages of Creation

In an article, Eric Maisel, PhD outlines “what confidence looks like during each stage of the creative process.” Here are some of his ideas:

Stage 1. Wishing

I’m conceptualizing ‘wishing’ as a kind of pre-contemplation stage where you haven’t really decided that you mean to create and haven’t really bought into the rigors of the creative process and are still wishing that creating could somehow be easier. You dabble at making art, you don’t find your efforts very satisfying, and you don’t feel that you go deep all that often.

The confidence that you need to manifest during this stage of the process is the confidence that you are equal to the rigors of creating. If you don’t accept the reality of process, the reality of difficulty, the reality of effort, and so on, and if you can’t say with confidence, “Yes, I agree to all that!”, you may never get started.

Stage 2. Incubation/Contemplation

During this second stage of the process you need to be able to remain open to what wants to come rather than defensively settling on a first idea or an easy idea. The task is remaining open and not settling for something that relieves your anxiety and your discomfort. The confidence needed here is the confidence to stay open.

Stage 3. Choosing Your Next Subject

You can call this a stage or a moment but however you conceptualize it, choosing is a crucial part of the creative process. You have to actually decide what you are working on and then work on it with energy and intention.

At some point you need the confidence to say, “I am ready to work on this.”  You need the confidence to name a project clearly (even if that naming is “Now I go to the blank canvas without a pre-conceived idea and just start”), to commit to it, and to make sure that you aren’t leaking confidence even as you choose your next project.

Stage 4. Starting Your Work

When you start a new creative work you start with certain ideas for the work, certain hopes and enthusiasms, certain doubts and fears – that is, you start with an array of thoughts and feelings, some positive and some negative.

The confidence you need at that moment is the confidence that you can weather all of that and the confidence to go into the unknown.

Continued in article: Confidence and Creating by Eric Maisel, PhD.

This “going into the unknown” is a key challenge of our creative life, and in an interview about his book Mastering Creative Anxiety, Maisel noted one of the sources of creative anxiety is that “the process demands that we don’t know until we know: it is a voyage into the darkness of an unknown place where our plot or image or melody resides.”

From my earlier post Creative Anxiety – So Much On The Line.


Confidence and Creating

Douglas Eby

Douglas EbyDouglas Eby, MA/Psychology, is a writer and researcher on psychology and personal development related to creativity; creator of the , and author of books including [link to book site with excerpts.]
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Some excerpts from The Creative Mind are included in his newsletter .
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APA Reference
Eby, D. (2012). Confidence and Creating. Psych Central. Retrieved on September 22, 2020, from


Last updated: 16 Jun 2012
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