Writers, artists of all kinds, can be incredibly hard on themselves. If you’ve dealt with such creatives, you know it. If you are such a creative, well, you’re nodding along. I myself can be harsh towards my skills, abilities, and works.
I’ve wondered why we do this. I mean sure, not every artist or writer self-flagellates, but it’s common enough that I feel there’s something to it. We creatives can turn on ourselves.
A book could be written on this – indeed I’ve written about it before. But one of the reasons that comes to mind is simply that we’re inside something no one else can experience.
Each creative person is living inside their own unique experience and creations. No one can see the flaws of our work because only we have them inside our head. No one can see the flaws in our process like we do as we are the process. No one lives with them as much as us – only we know what that’s like.
We experience our creations and creativity so intimately its easy to see the flaws. It’s also hard to express or connect as no one can really get what’s going on as they’re not us. It’s lonely, in our face, and intense.
Solving it is also hard because our self-loathing is so intense and personal. For us creatives wanting to mitigate this – and help others, I think there’s a few lessons.
First, any creative has to be aware of their own mental health and use our awareness of how personal our experience is. Being aware that yes, we have unique experiences, yes its hard to share, we can approach our own well-being better.
Secondly, I think we can network and connect with fellow creatives so we can support each other better. Being aware we’ve got some isolation, we can mitigate it as best we can socially, in writer’s groups, etc. It may be hard, but we can try – and our fellows can tell us when we’re being too cruel to ourselves.
Third, we have to remember creative support groups – writer’s groups, art jams – have to be about more than what we make. We have to talk challenges and problems in being creative and what we face. You can’t just talk word count and editing them go away. Creative people need people because hey, we’re people.
We might be in our heads because we do a lot of work there. But we can have guests and we can visit. With a little less sense of disconnection, with more people to understand, we can get more done and maybe get over those times we’re hard on ourselves.