Your inner critic can be an ally


While I still struggle with my inner critic, it is not nearly as difficult a relationship as it once was. In fact, I can hardly remember what it was like when I couldn't get past it and stayed stuck and paralyzed.

When you are a beginning artist (or when you majored in art and then stopped creating for a really long period of time) it can be so hard to deal with the inner critic. The shame about what we create, what others will think, the disconnect between intention and is overwhelming. 

But it is also a cacophony that can be shut up by playing in the medium of your choice. Or you can call it improvising, or experimenting, or messing around. For like, 15 minutes. No big deal. But do it frequently, and soon you will slip past that critical nag with a graceful sidestep and a polite "excuse me."

But here's the thing! As your artistic process evolves, so does your relationship to that critical voice.  It doesn't know what its doing at first!  So it does it badly. It is also improvising and experimenting.  All it knows is that its job is to hold you to higher standard, but it has no idea how to do that. So it pulls out shitty memories of assholes saying stupid crap, or all the ugly stuff you made when you were learning a new skill.  

As you grow, your critical voice starts to find its rightful place, matures, and becomes an ally.

It guards your integrity. It helps you hone in on your voice, and your truth. 

When you want to say something honest, something that makes you feel vulnerable, and you stay on the surface, decorative and shallow, it tells you. It has learned not to tell you while you are working, but later, when you are ready. Maybe years later. 

It is so important to honor your urge to create. Please take that urge seriously and give yourself the time and space to create. Here is a beautiful essay by Mary Oliver, that brings me to tears whenever I read, it on the importance of taking your creativity seriously.