Finding Your Creative Courage

By Pip Lincolne

Excerpt from lesson one of the Etsy Creative Courage Challenge. You can join this free online program to help kickstart your Etsy shop today...

Battling with creative confidence? Join the creative kindness revolution!

We live in fabulously democratised times. The internet (and social media) have given us a voice many of us might never have had, a way to broadcast our views and introduce ourselves to people we may never have previously encountered. What a wonderful opportunity to make friends and influence people! Thanks internet!

It’s interesting, though that so many of us (especially the creative us) are so reluctant to back ourselves and proudly share our work. Why, when we’ve been given the opportunity to speak are we a bit frightened to step up? There are lots of reasons, I think, but most of them can be filed under FEAR. Ugh.

Fear looms large when we’re taking a punt, exposing our work or ideas to people we might or might not know. What if they don’t like it? What if they think I copied them? What if my work/idea is not good enough? What if they say mean stuff about it/me? What if I am kidding myself? What if I am going to be exposed for the fraud that I secretly think I might be?! Shudder. Perhaps you’ve ‘what if-ed’ like this at one time or another? I know that I have.

The things we secretly say to ourselves in these ‘what-if’ moments are often WAY WORSE than the things others might share about us and our work. Start standing up to yourself and replacing those fearful ‘what-ifs’ with some more supportive self-talk and you’re on the road to creative confidence (and a happier, less anxious life!) Have the courage to say good things about your own work OUT LOUD and you’re instantly kicking goals. Maybe you don’t 100% believe the good things you are touting out loud JUST YET, but learning to say them and accept compliments from yourself is half the battle won. Not only are you reframing your own view when you do this, you’re taking the pressure off the people you’re interacting with too. It’s not up to other people to prop you up and urge you on (although, of course, we love that too!)

It’s MUCH better to back yourself from the get-go, stop talking your work down and let others respond to the things you are doing in a more equitable way – without the emotional baggage of making sure you’re okay.As the late Sister Corita Kent – genius printmaker, nun and LA Immaculate Heart College art teacher and chair (circa 1960s) says – ‘Don’t belittle yourself. Be big yourself!’ Be bigging is infectious. There’s nothing more inspiring that talking to someone about their work from a positive opening stance. You’re operating from a much more delighted, adventurous perspective! It’s also super-affirming and heartening to see people back themselves and talk proudly about what they are doing. Spread that stuff around! Much better to say ‘I made this thing. It took a while, but I’m really pretty happy with how it turned out. I’m looking forward to working on my next project because this one was really satisfying and motivating. I like it!’ (Or whatever your kind-to-you truth is.) Better that than: ‘Do you really like it? I’m not sure…. That bit is a bit wonky. I think Blah-Blah’s work is much better. Are you sure it’s okay? Really?! I’m really not sure, myself… Ugh’.That’s a much more excruciating, alienating exchange, right? Let’s not choose that.

You are doing YOURSELF and the world a huge favour by choosing to speak positively and with humanity about yourself and your work. Let’s not conform to the culture of criticism and trot out that unhelpful ‘are you sure I’m good enough?’ piffle.

Instead, let’s be part of a creative kindness revolution.Let’s know that everything we do is an important step in our creative process and creative lives. Talking nicely to ourselves and taking consistent courageous steps towards a more positive self-view are key.

Not only does a gentle, brave approach benefit us emotionally and creatively, others notice our ace-to-us behavior and it sparks the beginnings of a creative kindness revolution! As the aforementioned Sister Corita says ‘Nothing is a mistake. There’s no win and no fail. There’s only make.’ So let yourself off the hook: Love yourself. Like your work. Talk about your creative projects. Inspire others. Back yourself. Join the creative kindness revolution.

Five steps to a build creative confidence (and be part of the creative kindness revolution!)

1. Watch your negative self-talk – replace every snarky thing you say to yourself with something kinder.

2. Remember that there are no mistakes – you learn from every part of the process, so embrace the things that didn’t go the way you expected

3. If you’re feeling a bit fearful of sharing your work, combat nerves with a mini-meditation. You could try the Smiling Mind app. I like that one a lot.

4. Rewrite the script and talk about yourself and your work in more glowing terms to others. Positivity is catching.

5. Find a creative gang to share your insecurities and triumphs with. Facebook is a great place to find supportive online groups (start your own, if you fancy!) or meet up in real life for the bonus feature of hugs and shared pots of tea!

What are you waiting for? Join the Etsy Creative Courage Challenge today!

Pip is the founder of everyone’s favourite craft blog, Meet Me At Mike’s, and has published five books about creativity and making things and would like to write a whole lot more. She has three kids and a love of toast and tea. Pip likes to make and write every single day.

Use code BLOGSOCIETYxCREATIVECOURAGE to receive 20 free listings on Etsy.