I believe the most important part of unblocking and sparking our creative magic is owning our creative identity. Buying into this aspect of our lives in imperative for us to show up as the creative beings we are.
For a long time, I didn't feel comfortable saying I was an "artist." I mean, I felt in order to have to say that you had to have gone to art school, have your work in somebody's gallery, sold to wealthy collectors, have critics write about you, yada, yada, yada. It was only after I had started reading some great books about creativity and started creating for creativity's sake, did I take in the notion that I am indeed an artist.
Many people suffer from Imposter Syndrome, which Scientific American defines this as a "pervasive feeling of self-doubt, insecurity or fraudulence despite overwhelming evidence to the contrary." Successful and talented people of all walks of life suffer from it....particularly many creatives. Have you said or heard someone say, "I am not an artist, I just paint stuff sometimes." Or "I'm not creative, anyone can do that." When we have a story in our heads of how a creative person suppose to look like and we have felt that we don't live up to that story, we don't own our creative identity.
How does Imposter Syndrome start in the first place? This is not an easy answer to identify. There are some researchers who say that certain personality traits can lead people to feel this way about their talents and successes. Othrs feel that it may have started when you were young when a teacher, family member or someone significant made fun of your artwork. It may have been that your creative work was not recognized by someone special. Or it may be we entered into another field of work, got busy with a family or career, or caught up into a lifestyle where we fanatize about being a musician, artist or some other creative, but believe that we could not really do it and could never claim that identity as part of ourselves.
Steps to Regaining Your Sense of Creative Identity:
Here's a few steps that I recommended to help you move past Imposter's Syndrome to gain a positive sense of your creative identity:
1. Discover and record what makes you feel inspired and creative by going on an artist's date. Does live music or a trip to a museum do it for you? Does being a craft store or a speciality store inspire you? Does nature? How does these things help you get in touch with your creative side?
2. Make a list of why you don't feel that you are a creative person. Look at the list and then write a counter list of affirmations that negate what you wrote. Ex.: I am not an artist because I didn't go to art school. Affirmation: I am artist because I express my self creatively. Period.
2. Take notice and record the positive things that people say about your creative talents. That includes what grandma said, the comments on your instagram post showing your work, the causal stranger who admired your knitted gloves, everything that people have said complimentary that you can remember over the years. Record this information to look at when you feel down or unsure about who you are as a creative individual.
3. Pay attention to who is not showing support for your creative side. These are the people who discourage you from creating or make it hard to find time to do so. How does what they say or do impact your desire to create? Decide whether or not their behavior serves who you are as a creative person and what needs to be done about it.
4. Think about whatever you created that made people notice you postively in #2. Was it an old drawing from school that your dad posted on the refrigerator? Was it the booties you knitted for your cousin's newborn. If you have a photo or the actual work, take it out and post where you can see it everyday to remind yourself of the compliments that you received from it.
5. Embrace Imperfection: Danielle Krysa shared in her book Your Inner Critic is a Big Jerk : And Other Truths About Being Creative that we as creatives should celebrate imperfection not run from it. "There's no such thng as a perfect painting, a perfect book, a perfect song--so why worry about trying to achieve that? Besides, more often than not, imperfection is far more interesting than perfection. Embrace the happy accidents--they just might lead you to something totally new."
6. Stop Comparing but Learn from Others: Do you find yourself comparing to others who you feel are "real" creatives? What is about the person's style that comes off as postively owning their creativity? Instead of comparing and being envious of their work, etc., find what it is that they do that projects confidence in their creativity. Do they have a purpose in what they do? Do they share their work? And do they allow themselves to be vulnerable about their disappointments? If you know some artists who appear to be confident in what they are doing...why not interview them about their thoughts of being an artist, a chef, etc. You may find they have similar challenges about owning their identity as you do or that they have some tips that may help you become more comfortable with your creativity identity.
7. Redefine what being a successful ______means to you. Ok so you are not a rock start selling out stadiums all over the world. Does that mean that you are not a "real" musician? What is your measure for success? Is it being in a local band that plays every weekend and that you are able to get home to tuck your kids into bed every night? Because what you deem as a success can be interpreted differently, based on personal values, some of which you may discover is more important than glamor and glitz.
8. Find your squad. Join an artist meetup, association or a group of people who engage in areas that you like to express yourself creatively. When you find yourself identifying with others who appear more confident in their creative idenity, this identity can help rub off on you.
Above all, continue to exercise your creative expression and not let any messages internally or externally to the contrary keep you from doing it. The more you find yourself engaging in your creative practice, the more you will identify that as part of who you are.
One of the biggest barriers to getting our creative goals completed is the big four-letter word: FEAR. Fear can take any creative dream or goal off the rails, no matter our progress and instead of a creative project that we are proud of, we have excuses, rationalizations or other messages that prevent us from moving forward in it's place.
What do we fear about moving forward with our creative dreams? What other people think is huge....I may think I am an artist, but what if people don't consider me a good artist or an artist at all? People don't know that I have a passion for creating music...they just know me as an accountant, engineer, office manager, etc. How will people react to this side of me? Will that threaten other opportunities? Don't people think negatively of creative people? Then there is failure....what if it doesn't work out? What if people hate what I create? What if it alienates me from people I care about? What if I look foolish? We also can fear success....what if it DOES blow up in a good way? Can I handle the attention I will receive? Can I keep up with the orders? What if I end up so successful that no one will be able to deal with it in my circle?
What ever the reason, fear is real and can block us from moving forward with our creative practice. What does fear look like? Any of these statements sound familiar:
And ten, twelve or twenty years later, we come back to our creative dreams and regret that we didn't move forward. But it doesn't have to be that way.
Here's some tips to begin moving past the fear of unleashing your creative dream and make it a reality:
When you find that you are making some progress, the voices and beliefs you may have held about whether you can or cannot do something will begin to vanish. You will begin to feel more confident in your dream and your ability to execute it.
Working with an accountability partner or a creativity coach is also a good way to move past some fears. Ready to get started on your creative dream? Schedule a complimentary meeting with me at this link and let's talk!
Getting started on a creative project can be tough. Especially when you find yourself procrastinating on it...which is so easy to do with demands on your time and energy. Most creative people are inspired to create but may feel overwhelmed when it comes to actually starting a project. We also live in a microwave world, where cell phones, social media and other distractions has caused many of us to have a short attention span which allows for procrastination. Sticking with a creative dream requires discipline, which is tends to lean on the tedious, boring, or time-consuming side. One concept, "micro-movements" is something to implement to help you finish that creative or artistic project.
There are various descriptions of something similar, but in the book ‘Make Your Creative Dreams Real: A Plan for Procrastinators, Perfectionists, Busy People, and People Who Would Really Rather Sleep All Day’ by SARK (a.k.a. Susan Ariel Rainbow Kennedy) it is defined as "a very tiny action that anyone can take toward some part of his or her creative dream. It's 5 seconds to 5 minutes in length, and you write it down, along with a gentle dte and time for completion." SARK adds that a micromovement can be 5 seconds to 5 minuts long because "we can do just about anything for 5 seconds to 5 minutes."
So how do micromovemets work for our creative projects? Here's an example...say you want to write a book but find yourself overwhelmed with the thought of doing such a task. Use the steps below as a simple guideline to create manageable goals.
Keep setting micromovements and reaching them. Remember that they should each have a "gentle" date and time writtent down and be able to be completed between 5 seconds and 5 minutes. The more you do them, the easier they can be and the more you will see progress in your creative project! The timing of each micromovement after the last one is completed can vary....this system is designed for your rhythm and flow, to incorporate in your life and for your creative project, not anyone else's. Many people say that once they start on a 5 minute micromovement, it may extend to two or three hours making progress toward their creative goal. The momentum may suck you in that you end up making more progress than ever before!
Some tools to consider to help you with the micromovement practice include creating a wheel as a visual way to keep track of your movements and progress. You may want to find someone to serve as an accountability buddy so you can both support each other in reaching your creative goals.
Have you tried micromovements or something similiar to reach your creative goals? How did that work for you? Share any comments or experiences below!
Source: "Make Your Creative Dreams Real: A Plan for Procrastinators, Perfectionists, Busy People, and People Who Would Really Rather Sleep All Day copyright 2004 by SARK, All rights reserved.