You will have heard me say it before, ‘comparison kills creativity’, but it’s worth repeating because sometimes circumstances have us scrolling online more than usual. Social media puts thousands of artworks in front of us, more than any other generation has seen. You will see some awesome artwork and inspirational pieces, and you’ll see people in all different stages of their creative journey. And if you’re not self-aware you may end up in the abyss called “comparison”. Be careful that you don’t feed the inner child who’s afraid of not being good enough. Catch and destroy those unhealthy destructive thoughts. When you look at someone else’s work you actually have no idea of the journey they are undertaking, or how many thousands of hours they have invested in honing their skills. Absolutely nothing is stopping you creating your own exquisitely beautiful art, except yourself. Creativity is a gift from God but it’s likely to take blood, sweat and tears, and practice, practice, practice.
In a conference call about what we’ve all been creating lately, Joel McKerrow said, “Do not shame yourself for wherever you are right now”. It is okay to not know how to do the next step. It’s not okay to put yourself down for it, and it’s absolutely not okay to let it stop you from moving forward. A creative person constantly wants to improve their own work.
You may be striving to improve, experimenting, learning, and trying again. That is completely normal and exactly how the creative mind works. You create/edit, create/edit, create/edit. It’s like a rollercoaster. Your editing is part of the creative input/output cycle, but don’t let your editor muck up what your creator is doing. Don’t let your editor be your standard of validation. And definitely don’t let comparison steal your joy, but rather let it elevate you to fulfil the ‘more’ that you know you’re capable of. Used properly and intentionally, comparison is a tool to spark your own ingenuity. As you scroll through social media posts, be grateful that you have access to a wealth of output from your fellow creatives, and let gratitude fuel an inner satisfaction with your works-in-progress.
The creative journey is not a competition. It is your journey at your pace.
As you will read in the blog: ‘Embracing the Gap between Vision and Creation’
, the gap (coined by Ira Glass) is an essential part of the creative personality. There is always a gap between what we want to create and what we achieve. EMBRACE this. This is part of the creative process. When we create, we first experience ‘input’, that is, all the influences, images, colours, incidents, and imaginations that tumble inside our mind with no sense of order. It is who we are as creatives as we process all that we see, hear, and feel. We then come to the experience of ‘output’, that is, we create. As we come to the finish of our creating time we begin to evaluate. It is vital to understand that this moment is in fact the BEGINNING of the next stage of ‘input’. This is where we assess what works, what doesn’t work, what has potential, what disappoints, and what hits the mark so well that it’s worth celebrating. This is called WORK. Many quit at this stage because they do not recognise that this is the work of improving, learning, growing, and getting closer to your ambitions. Here is not the place to quit. Here is to recognise the gap for what it truly is – it is not your shortcomings – it is your greatest asset. The will to improve. Learn to embrace the gap without judgement.