The Creative Process is Brutal

Tonight, a much-anticipated art exhibit is opening at our city’s art museum. The artist is local, but internationally recognized, and one of my favorites. I’ve had the event marked on my calendar for months, but, as things often go in life, last-minute plans made it impossible to attend.

With my husband in Washington, DC living it up with his work colleagues, and my kiddos running around with applesauce in their hair, I just sat on the couch and felt sorry for myself. “I really wanted to go. Boo hoo. I’m so sad. This was supposed to be a fun night. Wah wah wah.”

You get the picture.

Then I had a revelation. One day, *I* would be showing at an art opening, where everyone wants to change plans in order to attend! Yeah! That’s the ticket! I’m going to be a celebrated and visionary artist! Or author. Whichever. Both!

Then the following thought process happened, in about one minute’s time:

Yes! I am awesome! I am going to create and be successful. I can’t wait!

Sigh. I can barely mix a good color combination any more. I’m no good.

I need to take an art class. I don’t have the time or money. I’m sad.

I’m no artist. I’m not neurotic enough. Or creative enough. I’ll never amount to anything but making amateur art with my children. I hate myself.

Geesh, woman! Get with it. Is this how the creative process goes for everyone? These horrible thoughts prevent me from even putting paint on paper. Or words on the screen. It’s awful. I second guess myself before I even give myself a chance.

I’ve been absent from my blog because I’ve been spending the past nine months writing the old fashioned way…in a spiral notebook. I’ve run across this negative sentiment almost daily, yet found that on the days that I just push through, something surprising peeks out of the rambling. In fact, I’ve finished two children’s picture book stories, and am about to send one of them off to various publishing companies. I’m not holding my breath (mainly because it takes six months to hear back, and that’s ONLY if they’re interested), but I’m excited. Even getting a rejection letter means I DID it. That I didn’t listen to that critical voice in my head that tries to stop me before I start.

Going forth, I need to remember to push through, not listen to my inner voice (the mean one), and take Maya Angelou’s advice to heart:

“You can’t use up creativity. The more you use, the more you have.”

6 thoughts on “The Creative Process is Brutal

    • Nicole says:

      Haha, Caitlin! You just created the most adorable thing on the planet! You can take a break from creating for a while :) Hope your family is doing well, I love seeing the pictures.

  1. Erin says:

    To comment on the question “is this how the creative process goes for everyone?” Well, I’m not everyone, but yes. I think similar thoughts far too often. Our inner critics are unkind at best.

    When we go together for our art time soon, I have an art exercise for you to try :)

  2. Cheryl Anne Tuggle says:

    Great post Nicole! I believe we were thinking (or maybe just feeling) along the same wavelength:)
    “…Good or bad, great or little: that isn’t what human creation is about. It is that we have to try; to put it down in pigment, or words, or musical notations, or we die.”
    Madeleine L’Engle

    • Nicole says:

      Isn’t that funny? We must be on the same wavelength…must be the changing seasons or something. I can’t wait for Tuesday! Thanks for that quote – she’s the best!

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