I know I haven't been showing you a lot of work lately (and it's not because I haven't done any, but because I can't quite show it to you yet), so instead let's talk.
My dad is the only person I know who gets up at the same ungodly hour that I do (or even earlier). I often receive emails from him at 3 or 4 in the morning with interesting articles on creative processes or some similar thing. They are always fascinating, even if I don't agree with them.
This morning he sent me an article on the Inner Critic by Mark McGuinness. I figure this fits along with the whole Rejection theme I started the other day, so let's run with it, shall we?
Your Inner Critic, let's call him Frank, is that nagging little voice inside your head who ALWAYS has an opinion on your work, even if you don't ask for it. Frank can be a bit, well, frank, so it's important to know how to talk to him in a way that is beneficial for you both. You need someone like Frank and here's why — in the article, McGuinness says:
Without some kind of internal quality filter, you'd be happy to churn out any old rubbish – and join the ranks of mediocrities. A finely honed critical faculty is one of the things that separates a creative professional from the legions of amateurs.And I don't think there is such a thing as being "too hard on yourself" so much as being too negative with yourself. You're allowed to like and dislike things about your work, and sometimes you need to make something that is awful in order to know what you like. But what it comes down to with art or writing or music is that you have an idea or a feeling that needs to be expressed, and it is up to YOU to express it with all the capability that you have. Frank is there to pick you up and dust you off when you're 3/4 of the way to the finish line and you think there is nothing left to give.
McGuinness later goes on to say:
When you're working, if the Critic starts telling you what's wrong with the piece, ask yourself, "So what does the work need instead?" or "So what do I need to do to make it better?"The key is learning how to communicate with Frank in a positive way rather than in a negative way. So instead of saying, "Oh it's so horrible, that thing I've made. Don't you think that's horrible, Frank? Of course you do. Oh I'm such a bad painter" think, I need to keep working on this because it doesn't feel right. It doesn't have to be perfect, but it has to feel right.
Something I've mentioned to my Dad (since Frank has always been my friend, for the most part [though we do have some bad days]) is that Frank only really torments me when I look at other artists' work. He says to me, "Oh goodness, look how she does that. Can you even figure that out? You'll never be THAT good. Oh and look at this detail! She must have spent HOURS on that. You don't have that kind of time. Just hurry up now and get this over with."
It's a slippery slope when dealing with Frank. Just like with any relationship you have to take the good with the bad and you have to be understanding. Frank doesn't mean anything by it when he says, "Seriously? THAT'S a duck? Looks like broken eggs." What he means is, "You can do better than that. I know you can. So try again, do your best. This isn't it."
And remember that you never started your creative work with perfection in mind. You started it because you had an idea or a feeling that you needed to get out and express and it is the goal of connecting with someone over that idea or feeling that is important.