Taming the Beast of Doubt

Do you let your internal critic dominate your artistic endeavors? I saw one of those online posts that said you know you are an artist when: You love the painting as you are creating it and then can’t stand it as soon as you are finished. It made me laugh because we creatives are like that. That’s your gremlin talking. That internal critic that is always lurking inside, getting ready to pounce whenever anything good happens. This is the baggage you are carrying around from every teacher, relative or even stranger that said, “you call that art, but trees aren’t purple, get a real education, you can’t make a living as an artist, actor, writer, musician, fill in the creative option”. It is sad to think of how many artistic lives have been crushed from these words. So how do you coax that timid creative part of your soul to come out and brave these loud critics? My new book, Awakening Your Creative Soul, is a weekly guide to help you do just that. You will find inspiration, wisdom, guidance and projects to create every week for a year. You will learn how to be brave and tame that gremlin.

Fear can stop creativity in its tracks, so work around this block by using these tips that will trick you into taking imperfect action. Any action is better than stagnation. When you are on the path to discover your passion and awaken to your true purpose, the gremlins will try and scare you. The closer you get the louder they are; so, be brave and know that you have tools to use and that you are not alone on this journey. Here are some ideas to jump start your creative process without the pressure of perfection.

I have a morning ritual of reading the local paper and drinking my morning brew. I began doing this writing exercise when I was feeling overwhelmed by all the political negativity in the newspaper. First, I just began skipping over stories, then I found that there wasn’t much I could read. I began the writing exercise as a ritual of protection. My intuitive mind and soul were weaving a protective cloak around me with words. I was able to keep apprised of world issues without becoming consumed by them. This in turn let me become more creative because I wasn’t having to keep my guard up constantly. The pages are a wonderful way to clear your mind.

Create an intuitive and protective ritual to begin your day. Set a daily goal to write for 10 minutes every day. When you set small attainable goals, you are much more likely to continue. Beating yourself up for not finishing another project isn’t allowed. That’s the gremlin talking. So, trick yourself into doing this. Even if you aren’t a writer, or don’t even want to become one; this exercise is eye opening. Julia Cameron made writing morning pages famous in her classic book, The Artist Way. I am not a very good rule follower so I came up with my own process using automatic writing:

1. Here are a few guidelines for this exercise. Do not let anyone read your pages, not even yourself. Keep the notebooks where they are safe from prying eyes. You may be writing about something that you do not wish your partner, children or anyone to see. Find a quiet place, even if you have to get up a little early and lock yourself in the bathroom. This is important to have safety for your thoughts.

2. Work in small steps. I find it best to do this exercise first thing in the morning, but you can always do it later in the day too. Use a timer, I like the Insight Timer app, and set it for ten minutes. You can squeeze in ten minutes, just deduct it from your social media scroll time.

3. I like to use a lined tablet that is bound on the top, because I am a leftie. Use whatever notebook is easy, inexpensive and accessible, but use a pen that you love to write with. Do this while sipping your morning coffee, or find a time and space that works best for you. Write for ten minutes; total stream of consciousness. No worries about spelling, grammar or even legibility. Do not read what you have written. When your timer goes off; turn the page so you have a new page to begin the next day, and no peeking at what you wrote. When you have filled a few notebooks, then you can go back and read them. You will find many gems hidden in the tumble and rubble of words.

4. Persevere even if you skipped a day; don’t let that gremlin bad mouth you. Pick up your pen and write about the damn gremlin. Tell it to be quiet. Imagine you have a TV remote, point it at your gremlin and hit mute. I have a student that has developed a terrific ritual. When she is painting, she will write “mute” on her worktable and put a circle around it like a button. I will catch her at times hitting the mute button. I love this, and the visual cue works well.

5. The process will begin to feel like a morning meditation. You are emptying the inbox and allowing yourself to start the day fresh and alive. I sometimes write garbage I want to get out of my head and somedays I am filled with love and gratitude. Meet whatever is in there and give it 10 minutes to be.

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