Thursday, September 13, 2012

Silencing the Critic and Other Advice for Creatives

One of my favorite events at this year's Dragon*Con was part of the art show programming. Shocking, right?

5 Lies to Bust for Freeing Your Creativity was a lecture by author and illustrator Janny Wurts. While I was not familiar with her work, I thoroughly enjoyed the talk and wanted to share some of the points that really struck a chord with me. These are the heavily paraphrased nuggets of insight I took away from her much more extensive (and eloquent) presentation.

No one has your unique viewpoint except for you. Don't deprive the world of that. Put in the work and time to do justice to that unique viewpoint. 

You must form the neural connections you want to use. That means practicing every day, whatever your medium. 

The thoughts you're thinking right now create your future. Banish self-doubt, self-pity, feelings of inadequacy- whatever negative thoughts are impeding you from creating the future you want.

Realize that depression is anger you think you're not supposed to have.
[Whoa. This was probably the most personally relevant thing I've heard in a long time.]

Good work is an investment in your future, so no excuses. Low pay or other less-than-ideal circumstances are no excuse for doing less than your best. Every piece is an opportunity to add to your portfolio and build your skills. 

You can't create and destroy at the same time. Silence the critic while you create. 

What you think is perfection is actually mediocrity. See item #1, re: your unique viewpoint. 

Good stuff, right? Afterwards I had the artist equivalent of that feeling you get after a really good church sermon; chastened, but inspired.

Today I saw a quote from David Bayles that relates really well to that last point. Since I'm obviously on a self-help kick today, I figured I might as well throw it in for good measure!

The seed of your next art work lies embedded in the imperfections of your current piece. Such imperfections are your guides- valuable, objective, non-judgemental guides to matters you need to reconsider or develop further.
So what's your biggest obstacle to nurturing and expressing your creativity? For me, it's time management, but these ideas have me reevaluating my attitude as well. I'd love to hear from you, so leave a comment about your struggles with living a creative life.

quote via Skinny Artist, photo by Patrick Feller via Flickr Creative Commons


  1. I took lots of notes too! i forgot that I told you I would share them with you. Let me know if you still want them. :) She really helped me get out of my writing rut and I have been writing much more since!

    - sunshine

  2. I went to her panel in 2011, and really enjoyed it. I don't think she covered the "do your best no matter what the circumstances" bit that year, or if she did I didn't write it down. Excellent advice, and a real kick in the ass.

  3. Sunshine: That's awesome! Yes, I'd love to see your notes if you don't mind.
    Rykie: Agreed. I love that her advice is so universal, whether you're a creative or an entrepreneur, or anything really that requires passion and diligence.