Creatives Overcoming the Negative Voices
The Artist’s Dilemma
Recently I asked my friends a few questions about their struggles and what breaks their hearts concerning their creative endeavors. One person’s answer was so thoughtful that it struck a chord with me.
Not Good Enough
Lysa: I feel like I’m not good enough; I get excited and want to try something new and start to get into it, but then I see lots of other people that do it better. I’m in the process of stopping that thinking; because there’s always going to be someone better at something- they just have more practice/experience. Aaand then I stop myself again because I think ‘why continue my crappy work when no one will like/buy it because of all the other good work others do? I’m wasting time and money by doing something that won’t get any return.’ Aaand theeeen I stop myself again because those aren’t my thoughts, they come from society and (sadly) my own mom. It’s a lot of back and forth, but it’s because of a lot of pressure as a kid to ‘do things a certain way,’ basically get a desk job because ‘art’ isn’t a job and doesn’t ‘guarantee’ income. I’ve lost the motivation to pursue quite a few artistic dreams because of this and even in hobby art I don’t do much anymore.
We cannot teach people anything; we can only help them discover it within themselves.— Galileo Galilei
Argh! This is the very thing I’ve been fighting for decades. My stupid mistake/escape from my father’s voice that ‘art isn’t a job’ was marriage. And l can tell you that didn’t go very well. He was abusive and violent. He beat me for 4 years 2 months and 28 days until I grabbed my babies and ran away. He said he would support me and my art but he didn’t mean it. Mostly he was jealous of the time I wanted to spend on it.
Believe in yourself! Have faith in your abilities! Without a humble but reasonable confidence in your own powers you cannot be successful or happy.— Norman Vincent Peale
How do you fight negative voices?
Doing what you love is the cornerstone of having abundance in your life.— Wayne Dyer
To Thine Own Self Be True
You must be true to yourself and no one else. No other voice matters. At the end of the day, you have to sleep with yourself inside your own skin. You cannot be happy listening to everyone else tell you what is best for you unless you agree that it is.
I came across Doug Savage quite by accident on the Internet one day. His story and his cartoon series called Savage Chickens is creative and hilarious. He listened to the voices and got a “real job” working in a corporation but hated it until he started creating rude chicken art on yellow sticky notes. The sticky notes got circulated around the office and his coworkers wanted more. It became an artistic outlet for him stuck in his 9 to 5. Most of the scenarios come from his disdain of his job and his humorous take on throwing in the towel. The job forced him to create and his creations are about his disdain for the job.
We delight in the beauty of the butterfly, but rarely admit the changes it has gone through to achieve that beauty.— Maya Angelou
An artist who denies his art is like a pregnant woman. You can deny it just so long and eventually you will feel the labor pains come upon you. Even those you can ignore for a while but not long. It is going to come out of you. The art will emerge one way or another. It has to.
Art is meant to disturb the comfortable and comfort the disturbed.— Unknown
Comparing ourselves with others impairs us. It is true that there will always be someone better, more experienced, more talented even than you are. But we artists have been deceived into thinking of art as a manufactured process with perfection as the goal. We are not machines and perfection is not possible. We are all individuals with our own focus and background. Each of us sees the world in his/her own way, and the total accumulation of your years and experiences color the way you express yourself on the canvas or in photography or music or writing. Whether you see someone’s work you admire and wish you could do, you must remember, you will never do exactly what he/she does because you have different experiences and a different point of view. All you can do is be the best YOU that you can be.
No one else who ever lived or ever will looks exactly like you, has your fingerprints, thinks exactly like you, or can create exactly like you. You are unique and original. Therefore all your art is unique and original. It is your voice, your fingerprint. Express yourself. No one else can do it for you or as well as you.
That has been my favorite saying. I want to better (as a person, as an artist) that the person I was yesterday. If I work on that, I can’t go wrong.
You might not make it to the top, but if you are doing what you love, there is much more happiness there than being rich or famous.— Tony Hawk
Selling Your Work
It will forever be an enigma to me what people buy and why. I can’t understand why folks buy one thing over another, why this sells and that doesn’t. Saying that you are wasting your time exercising your gifting is counterproductive. Why did millions of people buy pet rocks? Why did people buy T-shirts with a yellow smiling circle on it? You never know what will sell. Keep working and you may hit on the next fad.
Before a child talks they sing. Before they write they draw. As soon as they stand they dance. Art is fundamental to human expression.— Phylicia Rashad
You should be doing your art for the sake of the joy of it. The secondary plus is when it sells. Art is therapeutic and uplifting first for the artist and then for the beholder. We shouldn’t be thinking of the expense, although I know we always do. Try to put that out of your mind because let's face it, you are going to spend money on something. Hobbies, sports, recreations, décor, gifts. You will be spending your extra income on something. Why not budget some for your art and make space for your creations to be spontaneous?
I’d love to hear any thoughts or suggestions you may have for my friend in the comments below. What would you tell her to encourage her?