Kerrie Woodhouse

Whimsical words and watercolour

Is your inner critic preventing you from doing your creative work?

art tipsKerrie Woodhouse

I know. You have this little creative itch to scratch. Plans of starting a sketchbook practice, journalling regularly, getting back into painting or dusting off that guitar.

But somehow actually Doing The Thing just doesn't happen.  Life seems to get in the way. All other things seem to declare themselves more important than your creative urges. And if you do manage to tip toe towards starting there's that little voice that pipes up as soon as your first tentative steps are taken. She's mean, that voice, isn't she?

She is your inner critic, and fear not, everyone has one. Some are just noisier than others. Perhaps some are just better managed. I spent so much time listening to mine especially when I first started learning to draw and paint. Such constant companions were we that I even drew her once. Want to see?

 
 

Since we spent so much time together it seemed only logical that we should be on a first name basis. I call her Aunt Enid, and she's a bit of a shrew. And yes, in my head she wears a stiff, scary matron's uniform and scowls a lot.

Even though I really wanted to make some art, I seemed to do an awful lot of procrastinating. The creative urge would tug, but somehow I always managed to find an excuse to put it off. Aunt Enid would pipe up as soon as I thought of  getting out my art supplies. 

Shouldn't you be doing something more useful... laundry, perhaps?

Isn't it a bit late to start learning to be an artist?

I thought this would stop once I was a bit more accomplished (who knows what I thought that might mean - let’s not forget that art is subjective). Thing is, you can only get more accomplished by actually doing some art. But when you have this nagging doubt that you are not good enough at it you tend to find anything but art to do. 

 
 

It's self protection really. What we call the inner critic that pipes up with all that judgement is really a well meaning part of us that is trying to save us embarrassment or hurt. So well intentioned, but misguided because it's just paper and paint after all and you don't need to show anybody. 

And allowing yourself some time for creative expression is good for your soul. It can be a restorative, replenishing sort of activity that actually leaves you better equiped to return to your regular responsibilities and activities.

One of the things I have learned about the inner critic is that she doesn't go away. But actually, since she does have my best interests at heart, perhaps that is as it should be.

For a while, I laboured under the delusion that the inner critic was a beginner's problem and that I would overcome it eventually. Now I think that that is partially true. The inner critic is a lifelong companion, she is family. So like a crotchety old aunt who might be a bit mean, the best thing to do is to figure out how to manage her. Want to know how I did it?

I made you a free workbook that steps you through my approach. 

Creativity is such a great practice ground for so many things. Managing the inner critic is just one. For I’m not sure if you have noticed but that critical voice that pipes up about your drawing is the same one that has opinions on how you are managing your life in general, your level of fitness and waistline, your forgetfulness … you know what I mean.

So learning to work with her, or perhaps in spite of her, in the sketchbook is great practice for managing any of the other negative self talk that creeps in to other parts of your life.

 
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When I first started drawing, or rather wanting to draw, I spent so long shuffling paper, wondering what to draw, researching different types of paint and so on because I didn’t want to hear want Aunt Enid had to say about my efforts. But giving in like that is like failing before you begin. 

 
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If you know what I mean, and need some help taming your inner critic grab the free workbook now, so that you can get back to creating today.