I wanted to write today and I also wanted to get ready for my Creative Collaborative presentation tonight (you can come!) and I thought, why not combine them? So here are some of my thoughts about dealing with negative voices while creating art (I take full responsibility for typos, grammar problems and misspellings):
1. About negative voices we usually hear other people say to us:
don't dwell on it
don't read it
don't allow it in your life
but if we could be honest with each other I think we would all agree that part of being human is dwelling, reading and allowing negativity or criticisms in our lives--at some points in our journey. It just is. And listen, if you are one of those people that dismisses the reality of the spectrum of humanity you probably don't make a good artist (or friend for that matter). If you can't paint, draw, design, write or speak about shades of emotion I'm probably not interested in your work.
Our current obsession ignoring negativity isn't doing this world any favors. I think it's creating small minds and shallow, fearful work. The more intelligent choice would be to learn to live with our reality.
[presenters note: HIT THEM EARLY WITH MY KAPOW! SIDE!]
2. Critics, or as we call them in the Internet world, Haters, or H8TRZ, can be an asset to you when they ask of you what you're too afraid to give. Critics can often see the part of us we desperately don't want transparent. But sometimes that hidden morsel of ourselves encases our masterpieces. In this regard, critics become coaches pulling out the best of us.
*abuse is different than insight.
3. I understand the idea of closing comments, or disallowing feedback after creating or publishing something and I do this from time to time as well, but I fear doing it too much also closes the opportunity for growth. You can evolve so much faster as an artist when you allow your audience to talk back to you. I don't doubt that shutting out the negative voices has its incentives, but I think it slows down growth if it's constantly disallowed.
Decide: am I doing this to present a one-dimensional side of myself, or am I all in? If you want everyone to love you, curate that by deciding what makes you look the best and only allow that. But if your purpose is ultimately to grow, curate a place for thought and voice--yours and others.
4. Allowing feedback allows you to create a more dynamic side of you and that makes you a better artist. Also, the more you read feedback, the more you get comfortable picking the helpful pieces from the ones you can discard--and that takes the fear out of the process.
5. It's an honor to have readers/buyers/followers who think critically. It says a lot about you and your art.
6. When you get criticisms or come across negative thoughts write them down and give them time to tell you why they scare or hurt you. Think about them objectively, often this takes the sting or shock out of them. Just because you are willing to listen, doesn't mean they are right.
7. Be clear about what of your art is for you and what is a gift for others. Art for you doesn't need any feedback but art meant for others can take shape. You want to be able to give your best gift and others can help you give it. This means editing, clarifying, repainting, revising.
8. The dark days of making art are as important as the easy, flowing part. Honor the dark days, be kind to yourself, see it as important and ultimately transforming. I like the (disputed) Thomas Edison quote
I have not failed. I've just found 10,000 ways that won't work.
Bear my testimony (just kidding).
For blog readers: I will be deleting any negative/or conflicting feedback about this post in the comments section just so you are aware.