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Musings on Creativity: 8 do's and don'ts to increase your self-confidence as an artist

1. The myth of inspiration

Waiting for inspiration to strike is the greatest myth in the creative industry. If you consider yourself a professional artist, creator, designer, writer etc., honor your craft by staying fully committed to it, regardless of the changing moods and circumstances.

2. Has it occurred to you that the page/canvas need you?

Show up and use the page or the canvas to figure out what it is trying to communicate to you. Rest at it. Wonder about it. Feel the thrill of the sweet overwhelming awe that comes over you when you realize that you are working on YOUR ART. A lot is hidden within the seeming blankness. By showing up, you allow it to reveal itself to you or you allow yourself to craft your meaning out of the potential of the expressive space.


3. Nobody creates masterpieces on a daily basis

Some days you will do great work. Others, nothing remarkable will happen. Be OK with that. Accept it as an essential part of how your creative brain selects, filters, processes and actualizes your artistic visions. The important part is to keep showing up frequently enough as to stay intrigued by the process of creating. Learning to enjoy every moment of it is probably the most challenging, yet the most rewarding, feeling an artist can experience.

4. Tolerating uncertainty

Essentially, creativity thrives on uncertainty. For anything fresh, new or exciting to come into existence, a serious amount of time is usually spent exploring unchartered territories without the guarantee that 'new lands' will be discovered. The willingness to go into the unknown, while tolerating uncertainty, is what makes art an act of immense courage and vulnerability. 

5. Did you know that envy is for amateurs? 

Every minute spent envying somebody's talent or success is a minute you could have invested into creating new meaning and value, or simply achieving a greater level of mastery in your own craft. A more productive way to view envy is as a compass guiding us towards what we really love and desire to be(come). Figure out what triggers the feeling of envy in you, and explore it from a fresh perspective. Ask yourself: what does this tell me about what I truly want to achieve and be? 

6. Finding freedom

You are free the moment you focus on work that feeds your soul before it feeds your ego. The most powerful you are when YOU create for YOU first. I do not mean to say that all art must be self-serving. Yet in order to do seriously good work, we need to be able to detach ourselves from any fixed expectations of the outcome of our effort. More importantly, we need to detach our sense of worth from how others might feel about what we create. Our identity as artists does not equal our creations. It is much bigger than all of them.

7. Replacing discipline with devotion*.

Millions of creative folks live their life in 'must do's, need to do's or should do's'. There is a point when, if we are not careful and prepared, commitment easily becomes a burden that kills the creative spark and the desire to attend to our art. Instead of looking at our tasks as obligations, we could reframe them as priviliges. Rather than demanding of ourselves to stay disciplinedly focused, we could gently remind ourselves that we love what we do and we are devoted to it. 

8. Verba volant, scripta manent.

This is Latin for 'words fly, writings stay'. Brilliant ideas, lines and thoughts have the tendency to be fleeting. Figure out what are effective ways to capture your creative insights. Aside from always having a notebook and a pen with you, make the habit of using the Voice Memo and Notes app on your phone frequently. It is true that great ideas tend to come to you when you are in a relaxed state, so keeping a water-proof notepad in your bathroom does not seem to be such a crazy idea.

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