Kerrie Woodhouse

Whimsical words and watercolour

inner critic

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. 

 
hopes and fears clean.jpg
 

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.

Your 7 best excuses for avoiding your creative project

art tipsKerrie Woodhouse

I know what it is like. There is that tiny little voice inside. It is like a small child tugging at your sleeve. There are things she would like to do. Paint. Draw. Bake cupcakes. Write that novel. Start learning to play the guitar. (I'm kiddding... obviously its a ukulele she wants...) She gets quite excited about these things. It we are honest, she has been wanting to do these things for quite some time. But you always have an excuse for her. Do any of these sound familiar?

That little inner voice that tells you to write that novel or paint won't go away, will it? What are your best excuses for avoiding your creative project?

That little inner voice that tells you to write that novel or paint won't go away, will it? What are your best excuses for avoiding your creative project?

We don't have time

Yes, you are busy. Of course you are. But you still have some control over how you spend at least a portion of your day. If an emergency arises or a friend pops in to visit unexpectedly you will probably manage to shuffle things around and still get everything done that you need to. And if we are honest, even 15 minutes a day doing this thing that your inner voice won't give up on can be enough to make significant progress on your project if you can be consistent with it.

We have more important things to do right now

By important, you mean not fun, right? There is a danger that we can start thinking that life is hard, that important things are difficult, that the good things in life are only acquired through struggle. So if you are doing something that is easy and fun, it must therefore not be important or worthwhile.

best excuses for avoiding your creative project

best excuses for avoiding your creative project

We need to spend our time doing something more useful

Discounting a project on the grounds that it is trivial and time wasting is an easy trap to fall into.  The thing is, that little voice is still nagging you, isn't she? Even if you avoid your project in favour of something practical (like the laundry, shopping around for a better insurance policy, or some other tedious, grown up, but very 'useful' chore) you are not fully present to it. Part of you can't shake the doubt that you are letting yourself down. Is this thing going to be on your list till the day you die?

We could, but we don't have the right supplies

Ah yes. You would start that novel, but you just need to wait until you get a new notebook from Typo.

You already have all you need.

Just start. You will be glad you did.

We are a bit old for that, aren't we?

So is that it then? It's all over? If we didn't start this thing young or get it out of our systems before we grew up it's too late?

Did ice cream stop tasting good because you stopped being a child?

If it was fun then, it is probably still fun now. And it is never too late to learn something new. Better do it today, because tomorrow you will be even older...

We are not very good at that

Now we are getting to the heart of the matter. This is fear.

We tend to think that we will be judged, scorned or humiliated if we attempt to do something that we are not totally adept at. This still seems to be the case even if we are doing something totally private like drawing in a sketchbook that we have no intention of sharing. We are protecting that inner child from criticism. But we are also eliminating the chance of new experiences and the acquisition of new skills not to mention the fun you might have in the process.

We are not really 'creative'

Oh yes we are. Just look at how many imaginative excuses we came up to avoid having to face our fears and do this creative project (which we actually really want to do).

No matter which one of these excuses you tend to use, or how many you combine, you have not  managed to dismiss that little voice. So you may as well just heed that creative calling.

Life is finite.

Don't miss your chance to do these things that you can't stop thinking about.

best excuses for avoiding your creative project

best excuses for avoiding your creative project