This week I have been keeping track of my creativity and I realised a few things. That I’m much more creative first thing in the morning and then again when everyone else has gone to bed. I noticed that a lot of the stress that I feel during the day is actually self-induced by expecting too much of myself every day. I started to schedule in time for myself to read. This can be either blog posts or books but it cannot be social media. Social media, although I love it, drags you into the infinite scroll and I found myself doing more and more of that scrolling and less and less of actual reading.
Anxiety is the Handmaiden of Creativity
- T.S. Eliot
During my constant search for new blogs, I came across this quote by T.S. Eliot and although I remember when I first heard it, I had forgotten it. It’s true that the busier I get the more anxious I become and the less creative I seem to be. I fall into easier, proven content and push myself less and less. I know we all need different speeds at times but I don’t ever want to reach for my creativity and find that I lost my unique thought process because I have been too stressed or anxious.
Creativity Takes Courage
- Henri Matisse
There have only been a few times when I have been really anxious about posting a particular piece. This is usually around a photo challenge as I feel I have a lot more to learn about photography and I doubt my skills. When it comes to written blog posts or Instagram posts, the posts that make me anxious are the ones that are truly personal. Where I have given it my all and though I want to share it with the world, I also want to hide it away and protect it from disapproval. I do find though that those posts, the ones with my unique voice and eye, those are the ones that really do well. I’ve found a wonderful group that help, support and advise on how to make something better rather than criticism and tearing a piece down. Yes, it still takes courage to let it out into the world initially but knowing that a core support group is there helps to build up that courage and just let go.
Creativity & Self-Doubt
Creativity and self-doubt go hand in hand for me. When I doubt I have the skills to achieve something I’m less creative about doing it and end up producing something mundane. Sometimes it’s ok to be ‘good enough’ and I don’t need to be a hundred percent all the time even though I would love to. I’m never sure where the self-doubt comes from but it’s there and the more tired and run down I am, the more I doubt myself. It’s a vicious circle. Now that I know I do this it’s much easier to ignore that niggling feeling and go and eat something or knit and come back to whatever I was working on a little later.
The blog awards this year have been incredibly stressful for me. I have constantly been looking at my blog, writing and images and trying to figure out if I can make them better and like a lot of people I am my own worst critic. When I started I was developing my eye and although I am still doing that, I can say that I can frame an image better than I could before. I can write with purpose when I have to and I still allow myself to ramble on my blog.
The awards made me wake up and notice those other amazing blogs in Ireland. Their consistency, their content, their branding and I fell into the direct comparison which in reality is a little silly across genres. What works for one niche may nosedive in another. Right before the awards I was proud of just how far I had come in twelve months but during them, I became really insecure and the further along the process the blog went the more stressed I became. I realised that although I had built my blog to my own personal taste, it was being judged on how well I ran it and obviously then ‘work’ me kicked in and all I could see was the negative. I became anxious about my post topics and images and second guessing myself. I also had an uneasy feeling that the blog was being judged partly on my personality which made me look more and more at my content. You can guess that this stalled my creativity but then something wonderful came from it all.
I realised in order to stand back and be negative about my blog it told me that I can distance myself from a project. My skills have developed and over time I have become settled in what I want the Notebook to be which is something I have struggled with in the past. From being scared and stressed and entering anyway, the blog awards process made me a better blogger and also opened up a wonderful world of Irish bloggers in genres that I would never have looked into before.
It also wasn’t just the blog awards that made me feel this way. I take part in the Instachat by Sara Tasker (MeandOrla) and at the end of the chat we all join the Insta-train and share our grids and get to know some new online friends. This is wonderful and the group is highly supportive but I realised after the third chat that I didn’t like sharing my grid as I felt it was terrible in comparison to those who were posting. That I had so much to learn and achieve that I couldn’t/shouldn’t post. I did force myself too and I have some lovely new friends through there but again prior to the chats, I was feeling good about how far I had come to feeling terrible about how messy and unstyled it was.
The point of this post is to remind both you and me that we all battle our own demons. That the voice inside is both good and bad and that we need to listen to it in a more balanced way. Appearances are almost always deceiving and creativity shouldn’t come with a price. Give yourself room to breathe and de-stress and have the courage to post the work that you’re unsure about. Although the last month has been incredibly stressful for me, I am better person because I took part in the things that made me anxious or scared. The trick is to do it in a way where you can still be your creative self and find your unique path to the content you want to create. I’m sure that I can’t be the only person who has felt this way but for now I know what I need to do to move forward and be a better, creative me.
Best of luck to everyone taking part in the awards this year. I’m so glad to meet such wonderful new bloggers and be part of a wonderful group. I won’t be here on Friday so I will see you all next week.
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Thanks for this post. Lots of food for thought.
While it’s not on the same topic, the title of this post always makes me think of one of my favourite Dorothy Parker poems. You’ll see why in the 3rd stanza.
Four be the things I am wiser to know:
Idleness, sorrow, a friend, and a foe.
Four be the things I’d been better without:
Love, curiosity, freckles, and doubt.
Three be the things I shall never attain:
Envy, content, and sufficient champagne.
Three be the things I shall have till I die:
Laughter and hope and a sock in the eye.
I love reading your blog posts and your Instagram captions and comments because you’re funny and precise and just yourself and you help my day go better. It’s a pleasure to have found you!
Thank you so much, Laureen! Apologies for the delay in responding I was at the blog awards and just back this afternoon. It’s lovely to have you join us 🙂
I’m delighted to hear from you anytime, Nadia! No schedule required 🙂
Well done on everything you have achieved. I shall be quoting your words in the reply above ‘compare my start to their middle’. That’s a gem ? See? Already your individual voice has made a difference to someone and it’s only 8am.
I’m a firm believer that magic can happen before 9am 😉 Thanks Nic and have a great day !!
So sorry to hear you’ve had a stressful time lately, but it seems like you’ve learned so much from the experience. Here’s to self-knowledge!
Find me a person who hasn’t been stressed lately! It’s that time of year plus I’ve continued saying the magic No word and its so freeing. Stress is easier to deal with when you know what’s causing it too.
So many chords struck there! The whole confidence in my own ability vs. Comparison with others thing is so difficult for me to deal with sometimes, and if one is unwell or tired, then it’s worse. Your blog is amazing (and there’s no ‘smoke blowing’ in that statement!). I wish you all the best with the awards. And keep on being yourself!
It is difficult to put the more personal stuff out there, but to me it is so helpful to know that others struggle with the same issues, and have great strategies for dealing with them that they are willing to share. So, thank you.
I’m glad I’m not alone in thinking this way. It’s hard to not compare your work with others but usually I don’t compare them properly for example I’ll compare my start to their middle etc.
Thank you for the ‘non-smoke blowing’ what’s important is for me to love this space and to come here and smile and share it with all of you. Big hugs Jane you are doing fantastic xxx