Catching up on some reading, I just spotted part of an article by Louis Chew on behaviors of creative people. The one that struck me as most important was that creative people give themselves permission to suck. Think about it.

Creativity sounds good theory, but it’s difficult in practice. Stephen Pressfield explains in his The War of Art,  the fear that all creatives have  is the Resistance.

“The amateur, on the other hand, over-identifies with his avocation, his artistic aspiration. He defines himself by it. He is a musician, a painter, a playwright. Resistance loves this. Resistance knows that the amateur composer will never write his symphony because he is overly invested in its success and over-terrified of its failure. The amateur takes it so seriously it paralyses him.”

Society has trained us to tie our self-worth to our accomplishments, as if success is the only metric that matters. If that’s the case, who would willingly create a piece of work that would be used to judge him, possibly to label him a failure?

For this reason, Pressfield says that we must turn from amateur to professional. Only then can we produce truly creative work.

“Resistance wants us to stake our self-worth, our identity, our reason-for-being, on the response of others to our work. Resistance knows we can’t take this. No one can. The professional blows critics off. He doesn’t even hear them. Critics, he reminds himself, are the unwitting mouthpieces of Resistance.”

The way to creativity is to create a lot, and the way to create a lot is to give ourselves permission to suck. People will forget the mistakes and garbage we make, but will remember our best works.

Posted by:Lynn Bycko

I'm a historian, curator, archivist, photographer, author, coach, speaker and instructor.

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