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Ah, the infamous "Naysayer".....! As you move through your creative journey, most often than not, you will meet up with him or her. These are not people who provide healthy criticism of your work to improve it. These are the people who are not fans of what you are doing altogether, no matter how good it is. They are somehow threatened by your interest to do something creative and will do everything in their power to discourage you from doing it.
Not long ago, I shared a creative dream with a rather recent acquaintance, expecting her to be as enthusiastic as my long-time friends and colleagues. We were talking on the phone catching up and when I announced the creative project there was dead silence for a minute or two. She finally said, "what made you want to do that?" It was an odd question...somewhat accusing like "why do you want to jump off a cliff?" I explained more about the project...expecting an "ah hah" or "okay, I see"...but that wasn't the case. Later she said that she didn't know why I wanted to do something I didn't have a level of understanding of it (in accordance to her). She then proceeded to compare how she perceived I handled a personal situation and use that as a barometer of how unqualified I was to pursue the creative project...two totally different things. Unfortunately, I did temporarily allow her words to concern me. Was I really unfit to do this? Is she right? But why was she the only person I shared this with being negative about it? What's really going on here?
After meditating, reflecting and talking to people who really knew me and were either objective or strong proponents of my creative life, I was reminded that her role was to really keep me on my toes, trust my intuition, and measure my commitment to the project. And that's what naysayers do....they remind you of your purpose in life as a creative and to move forward regardless of what "they' say or think. (Note: the only exception is if the person is providing sound advice about what you propose to do which might physically or mentally harm you or others or is against the law).
So how do you deal with a naysayer that throws water on your creative dreams or goals? Here's some thoughts to help:
1. Consider the source: How well does this person know you? What role do they play in your life and if any to your creative dreams? If they are a person that is a casual acquaintance versus your mother, spouse, etc. The role they play will have a lot to do with the weight that their words carry. Are they an expert in the field that you are pursuing? If so, is their opinion recognized professionally? Do they know your creative side or just another side of your life (i.e. in the office, on the tennis court, etc.)? Depending on the source, you will need to decide how active or involved they will be in your creative life and adjust accordingly. In my case, the person was not very familiar with the extent of my professional endeavors, only based on what I would share about in a passing conversation or via social media. She did not have a professional background or experience in my field or the area that she believed I was deficient in to make any assessment about my ability to do the creative project.
2. Ask yourself what they are not saying. Does the person feel threatened because your free time is no longer spent with them but in your creative endeavors? Or does the person secretly want to pursue a creative dream and is jealous of what you are doing? Is there a lot of changes going on in their lives (caretaking of a sick relative, taking over the raising of young children, separation or divorce, loss of job, a major move, health issues, children in trouble, etc.)? Life circumstances such as these can make some people stressed, anxious, regretful or even resentful of others and cause them to say critical things to others intentionally or unintentionally. Also, consider the personality of the person...if they have always exhibited some narcissistic traits, their response to you may be part of their regular behavior. My naysayer had recently made some major life changes that may have contributed some to her response to my announcement.
3. Decide how much the naysayer continue to be privy to your creative life. Depending on how you answered #1, decide what role they will continue to play in your creative life. You might want to let them know that what they said was hurtful and talk about your feelings, if it is safe to do so, and depending on how well it is received, make the choice that feels right for you. You may decide that you will no longer share anything about your creative life with the individual and stick to neutral activities or topics of discussion. You may learn that the person feel shut out of your creative life or miss the time you both spent together. If that is the case, consider how to make more time in your schedule to spend with them....or even how to get them involved with helping your creative practice (i.e. if you are writing book, think about using them as a beta reader or getting them involved with organizing your first book signing). If they are in a position to support you financially, you may want to consider your options by talking to someone you trust, whether it is a therapist or another professional, especially if it a part of ongoing or escalating mental or physical abuse. Or you may decide that you no longer want them in your life period. Again, depending on the situation, weigh your options carefully and make the choice that supports not only you but your creativity as well. After sharing my feelings with my naysayer, we decided that a continued friendship would not be beneficial and have since parted company. I haven't looked back but view it as wakeup call and an educational moment for me as I move forward with my creative endeavors.
4. Know who your fans and cheerleaders are. Those who truly know and support your dreams are the ones you need to have close. These people are not afraid to give you constructive criticism when you need it and are always visibly excited about what you are doing. They may or may not be "influential" but their energy and belief in you is what you need. If you don't have these people around, seek them out in creative groups or other organizations that bring together people with like minds. Believe me, your "people" are out there...you need to find and connect with them to move you forward.
5. Think about who can and cannot share your creative dreams with. In the age of social media where so much is being shared with everyone with a few clicks, it is easy to feel that sharing your creative dreams shouldn't be an issue. Unfortunately, it is in many cases....the "haters" and those who are naysayers thrive on your vulnerable moments just to kill or overly criticize what you are doing. Think about who needs to know about what you are pursuing. Ask yourself the questions in #1 especially how well they know your creative life and are they people who have consistently appreciated your creative gifts. You may also want to consider "rolling out" a major creative project slowly regarding who you share it with. Perhaps only a handful of people you trust can know it the beginning and when it's close to being unveiled, everyone else.
How do you deal with the naysayers in your life? What advice can you give to others who are dealing with this situation? Please share in the comments below.
One of the most discouraging issues any creative has to face is the creative block. One of the definitions I identify with regarding a creative block is what an article in GoodTherapy describes as “the inability to access one’s internal creativity. People who are in engaged in creative activities or professions such as authors, actors, artists, dancers, etc. are often adversely affected by creative blocks….long stretches of uncreatively which can last for up to years..
There are many things, which I have covered in previous blog posts that can lead to a creative block. Some of these include
How does one deal or overcome the creative block when it rears its ugly head in our creative life? Here are some ideas and methods that I used to help me move past it in the past:
Think of who you know you want to cultivate within you as a creative. Practice writing statements (in the affirmative) that describes who you are or becoming.
EXAMPLE: I don’t know if I am truly the creative person want to be.
Affirmation: I love and trust my creative gifts.
EXAMPLE: I think I am a songwriter, but not sure if it is just in my head or if I’m that good.
Affirmation: I am a talented and very gifted songwriter that is celebrated for my work.
If you facing depression or some kind of mental or physical illness, these tips may not work well for you and professional intervention via a therapist or physician may be the first step in dealing with the creative block you are facing. Take time to make a proper assessment of what is going on and what might be the source of your blockage before trying these or other tips to address it.
Have you tried other ways to unblock your creativity? Share below!
Summer is just about here which is an excellent time to catch up on reading! Although typically summer is good to read more fiction-based works, don’t neglect the opportunity to learn more about how to enhance your creativity, especially if you are striving to reach some creative goals before the end of the year. Here are some of our recommendations to add to your Summer Reading list this year:
1. Art & Soul, Reloaded: A Yearlong Apprenticeship for Summoning the Muses and Reclaiming Your Bold, Audacious, Creative Side by Pam Grout
"With her trademark humor, enthusiasm, and no-nonsense guidance, #1 New York Times bestselling author of E-Squared Pam Grout invites you on a yearlong "apprenticeship" to recognize and unleash your innate creativity. Making art does not necessarily mean painting a gallery-worthy still life or belting out a Grammy-winning song. It simply means finding a way to give your inner muse a voice in this world. Sure, there’s drawing, dancing, singing, and writing. But there’s also art to be made from creating your own pair of angel wings or inventing a new toy or curating your own at-home film festival. Each week features a project of self-examination, an inspirational message, a real-world example of a celebrity who has addressed similar obstacles, and three zany activities to awaken your infinite creativity. It’s time to declare the beat of your own drum."
2. The Courage to Be Creative: How to Believe in Yourself, Your Dreams and Ideas, and Your Creative Career Path by Doreen Virtue
"You were born creative. If you don’t feel creative or your creative pursuits haven’t worked out, Doreen Virtue’s newest book can help. Doreen, the best-selling author of more than 100 books, card decks, and audio programs, shows you how to gain 10 forms of courage that lead to creativity, including the courage to be yourself. Each chapter features practical exercises to lead readers to discover their natural talents as writers or artists and in other creative vocations or avocations. Doreen also includes summaries of fascinating psychological studies that demonstrate how to become a successful and satisfied creative individual. Filled with practical advice, scientific research on the creative process, and real-life stories, The Courage to Be Creative is a mainstream book with an inspirational flavor."
3. Mastering Creative Anxiety: 24 Lessons for Writers, Painters, Musicians, and Actors from America's Foremost Creativity Coach by Eric Maisel
"In his decades as a psychotherapist and creativity coach, Eric Maisel has found a common thread behind what often gets labeled “writer’s block,” “procrastination,” or “stage fright.” It’s the particular anxiety that, paradoxically, keeps creators from doing, completing, or sharing the work they are driven toward. This “creative anxiety” can take the form of avoiding the work, declaring it not good enough, or failing to market it — and it can cripple creators for decades, even lifetimes. But Maisel has learned what sets successful creators apart. He shares these strategies here, including artist-specific stress management; how to work despite bruised egos, day jobs, and other inevitable frustrations; and what not to do to deal with anxiety. Implementing these 24 lessons replaces the pain of not creating with the profound rewards of free artistic self-expression."
4. Creative Quest by Questlove
Questlove—musician, bandleader, designer, producer, culinary entrepreneur, professor, and all-around cultural omnivore—shares his wisdom on the topics of inspiration and originality in a one-of-a-kind guide to living your best creative life.
In Creative Quest, Questlove synthesizes all the creative philosophies, lessons, and stories he’s heard from the many creators and collaborators in his life, and reflects on his own experience, to advise readers and fans on how to consider creativity and where to find it. He addresses many topics—what it means to be creative, how to find a mentor and serve as an apprentice, the wisdom of maintaining a creative network, coping with critics and the foibles of success, and the specific pitfalls of contemporary culture—all in the service of guiding admirers who have followed his career and newcomers not yet acquainted with his story.
Whether discussing his own life or channeling the lessons he’s learned from forefathers such as George Clinton, collaborators like D’Angelo, or like-minded artists including Ava DuVernay, David Byrne, Björk, and others, Questlove speaks with the candor and enthusiasm that fans have come to expect. Creative Quest is many things—above all, a wise and wide-ranging conversation around the eternal mystery of creativity.
5. The Creative Habit: Learn It and Use It for Life by Twyla Tharp
"One of the world’s leading creative artists, choreographers, and creator of the smash-hit Broadway show, Movin’ Out, shares her secrets for developing and honing your creative talents—at once prescriptive and inspirational, a book to stand alongside The Artist’s Way and Bird by Bird.
All it takes to make creativity a part of your life is the willingness to make it a habit. It is the product of preparation and effort, and is within reach of everyone. Whether you are a painter, musician, businessperson, or simply an individual yearning to put your creativity to use, The Creative Habit provides you with thirty-two practical exercises based on the lessons Twyla Tharp has learned in her remarkable thirty-five-year career.
In "Where's Your Pencil?" Tharp reminds you to observe the world -- and get it down on paper. In "Coins and Chaos," she gives you an easy way to restore order and peace. In "Do a Verb," she turns your mind and body into coworkers. In "Build a Bridge to the Next Day," she shows you how to clean the clutter from your mind overnight.
Tharp leads you through the painful first steps of scratching for ideas, finding the spine of your work, and getting out of ruts and into productive grooves. The wide-open realm of possibilities can be energizing, and Twyla Tharp explains how to take a deep breath and begin..."
6. Keep Going: 10 Ways to Stay Creative in Good Times and Bad by Austin Kleon
"In his previous books Steal Like an Artist and Show Your Work!, both New York Times bestsellers, Austin Kleon gave readers the keys to unlock their creativity and showed them how to become known. Now he offers his most inspiring work yet, with ten simple rules for how to stay creative, focused, and true to yourself—for life.
The creative life is not a linear journey to a finish line, it’s a loop—so find a daily routine, because today is the only day that matters. Disconnect from the world to connect with yourself—sometimes you just have to switch into airplane mode. Keep Going celebrates getting outdoors and taking a walk (as director Ingmar Bergman told his daughter, ”The demons hate fresh air”). Pay attention, and especially pay attention to what you pay attention to. Worry less about getting things done, and more about the worth of what you’re doing. Instead of focusing on making your mark, work to leave things better than you found them..
Keep Going and its timeless, practical, and ethical principles are for anyone trying to sustain a meaningful and productive life.."
7. The Right to Write : An Invitation and Initiation Into the Writing Life by Julia Cameron
What if everything we have been taught about learning to write was wrong? In The Right to Write, Julia Cameron's most revolutionary book, the author of the bestselling self-help guide The Artist's Way, asserts that conventional writing wisdom would have you believe in a false doctrine that stifles creativity. With the techniques and anecdotes in The Right to Write, readers learn to make writing a natural, intensely personal part of life. Cameron's instruction and examples include the details of the writing processes she uses to create her own bestselling books. She makes writing a playful and realistic as well as a reflective event. Anyone jumping into the writing life for the first time and those already living it will discover the art of writing is never the same after reading The Right to Write.
8. Running Down a Dream: Your Road Map To Winning Creative Battles by Tim Grahl A Deeply Personal Field Guide to Defeating Your Own Worst Enemy
When you dream, you envision a magical future...the day when you have heroically slain your dragons and unlocked the creativity and genius buried deep inside. But how do you actually get to that destination? You can analyze the myths of visionary creators—artists, writers, musicians, software developers, etc. who have accomplished the impossible. You’ll read about how they went for it, refused to quit, and would not be denied. But exactly how these successful creators went from being fearful dreamers to accomplished artists proves elusive. Running Down a Dream unflinchingly bares the naked truth of creation and shares the practical to-do list to take you from here to there. The good news? You don't have to be an Austen or a Michelangelo or an Oprah to create a work of art. The bad news? There is no glossing over the pain, embarrassment, and financial terror necessary to contend with on your journey to mission accomplished. More good news? What lies ahead for you is the realization of your heroic self. The run is worth it in ways you can't yet imagine.
All quotes except where noted from Amazon.com
Have you read any of these books? Any books that are missing that you recommend? Share below and happy reading!