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Archive for April 10th, 2008

Weekly Tips From Teachers

Thursday, April 10th, 2008

Tip #2 from Dayna Collins of Matchbox Shrines

The Traps of Perfectionism and Expectation

I’m still learning, but I know very well how perfectionism and expectation can interrupt my creativity. If what I’m working on must be “perfect,” it disrupts my creative flow and most likely brings the creative process to a halt. I find myself stuck rather than productive and it is far easier to be stuck than creative. The other potential trap is expectation. Once I have an idea and get started on a project, I often try and “steer” the outcome, to direct it in the direction I “think” it should go. The result is often frustration and again, I allow myself to get stuck..

Both perfectionism and expectation stem from my inner critic, that internal voice that is judgmental and critical of whatever I create. When I hear that voice, it catches my attention and I begin to believe it. So how do I break through the chatter of my inner critic? An effective tool is to tell myself that I am PLAYING, not making “art,” especially art with a capital “A.” Somehow just thinking of my creating as playing dulls the voice of my inner critic. When I’m playing, there is no need to be judgmental and I certainly have no expectaton of where I’m going. The idea of playing takes me back to being a child and allows me to just have fun.

Whenever I’m teaching a class or workshop, I always begin each class with a reminder for each person to leave their inner critic at the door. It is my goal that we view our time as playtime and to enjoy the process, wherever it may take us. We don’t judge our work, we don’t even critique each other’s work, and we definitely don’t decide in advance exactly what we will be doing. It is my hope that we will let loose, experiment with whatever materials we have before us, and above all, allow ourselves to BE BOLD.

Here’s an idea you might try if your critic has been particularly noisy lately: Take a piece of paper or a page in your journal and begin writing everything your inner critic is saying to you. It might start off with something like this: “You’re not an artist, why do you pretend you are . . . .” Once you have filled the page, get out some paint and cover all of your writing. Yes, cover it all. Now take a bright color of paint or a pen, and write over the top of the paint whatever you really are. For instance: “I am a brilliant and creative person who loves to play.” You have just written a creative affirmation – now begin to believe it!