It is very unfortunate, but many of us don’t believe that we’re creative people. Often we gain this misconception through childhood experiences where we have not been given support in practicing and using our creativity. We grow up with a distrust of our creative voice. We hide it because we are afraid of being judged by others.
The truth is, we were all born with a creative voice. This is a universal trait of human beings. We may stifle it under self-protective layers, we may deny its existence, but it is there somewhere. It is one thing that makes us different from most of the other animals on earth. We create new material from a conglomeration of our experiences and thoughts and feelings as part of our makeup as people inhabiting this Earth.
Being creative and sharing this with the world gives us great freedom. By allowing us to express deep emotions, thoughts, dreams and beliefs through our art, we’re given an opportunity to share ourselves with the outside world. We are given the chance to make an impact through our own art, in our own singular way.
A person’s creative style is unique to them, as unique as a fingerprint. No one else will have the exact same way of seeing and expressing the events of their lives. We all understand and say things in different ways, we all have different messages to share with the world using our creative voices.
We are all needed.
It is certainly true that being openly creative, putting the resulting work of our creativity out into the public sphere, opens us up to criticism. This can be useful and productive criticism that leads us to better ways of using our creative voices, or the type that serves negative and selfish purposes for the one who gives it. Expressive people receive both types and need to be prepared for both.
The fault-finding type of criticism creative people receive usually comes from others who are jealous on some level. They may also be afraid of using their own creativity, perhaps jealous of your bravery in displaying your work to the public, unable to allow themselves to be so vulnerable.
For some people, it can be easier to hide behind a critical attitude than to actually find some inner strength to allow their own voice to be heard. Criticizing your work may help them to feel that they have some level of expertise, although to you it is going to be patently obvious that they don’t know what they’re talking about most of the time.
Dealing with fault-finders can be difficult, as they are often people who are close to you. For whatever reason, friends and family members especially can say things so ignorant it takes your breath away, and their remarks can be quite cutting. The first few times you receive these types of remarks it may really hurt, especially if it has taken you a lot of strength to share your work in the first place.
The way overly critical people feign some type of special insight may confuse you at first. In time, you will learn to simply disregard this type of nonsense. You will learn not to take it personally, and you will cultivate the skill of being able to take whatever is useful from a person’s comments and throw away the rest.
Useful critique generally comes from more thoughtful people who are trained, experienced and disciplined in a similar discipline of creative expression. If you write non-fiction, other non-fiction writers will be your people. If you sculpt miniatures, other sculptors of miniatures will give you wonderful and useful advice. If you are an oil painter, seek out other oil painters. These are the best types of people to go to for productive critique, although others in a more generally similar area can be very helpful too.
Productive critique is fairly vital to the growth and development of an artist. We get very caught up in the emotional process of creating, and at times it is difficult to maintain the level of detached objectiveness that we need to critique our own work.
Allowing someone else to share their insights gives us a great awareness of areas in which we can still improve and grow. Although this can be difficult in its own way, this type of critique is a gift and one we should be appreciative of and eager to receive. Intentionally seek out people who will give you honest and straightforward feedback on your work, and regularly thank them for doing so.
Trusting your creative voice is simply a matter of allowing it to exist and take up space. If you are currently holding your voice captive under a veil of fear, allow it a little freedom. You might not know how you’d like to express yourself at first, but to begin exploring your options would be offering yourself the most wonderful gift. You don’t have to share your creative work with anyone else right away, but please do it for yourself for as long as you need to.
When you have gathered your strength and built up some trust in your message to the world, find the courage to open yourself up to an audience. This may be your usual social group or family, or you might reach out to like-minded creative people (which is generally going to provide a more supportive atmosphere, so don’t be afraid!). Allowing yourself to be vulnerable like this can be scary, but is also most rewarding.
Remember, people who shoot poisonous barbs of criticism at your work have their own reasons for doing so, reasons that have nothing to do with you. Reach out, find those who resonate with what you are saying through your creative voice, and ignore the rest.
Don’t let troubled people rob you of your ability to share yourself with the world. We need you!