The author of "Mess" thinks perfection is screwing up your creativity
Stumped on where to go next with your creative work or, even worse, perhaps you want to create but have spent so many years thinking you are just not "crafty"? Keri Smith, illustrator, artist and author of "Wreck This Journal," shares her insights on creativity, including the rightfully painful process of creating, overcoming crafter's block and how most "crafty" folks are probably faking it.
What would you say to someone who wouldn't describe themselves as "crafty"?
I have met a lot of practicing artists who might not describe themselves as "crafty." What I mean by this is that everyone feels like they are faking it most of the time, myself included. Not many of us feel confident in what we are doing. I think it just goes with the territory. Make stuff anyway.
What prevents creativity from being fun? Any tips for overcoming these struggles?
Who says creativity is supposed to always be fun? If we are to partake fully in a creative act we might experience a plethora of uncomfortable emotions. This process of creating often involves throwing ourselves off balance for a time into a situation where we have to make decisions on the spot. During this whole process it becomes necessary to “sit” with discomfort as it arises, letting it exist and allowing ourselves to fully experience the sensation of groundlessness (not knowing what we are doing), and enjoy the giddiness and terror that comes along with it. North American culture teaches us to avoid discomfort as much as possible, but this is not what life or art are about.
What can help is to, as much as you can, make friends with the fear, because if you wish to pursue a creative life, which hopefully you do, you will get to experience it quite a bit, and I think it's a good thing, keeping us awake, open and honest.
How do mistakes promote creativity?
Our culture teaches us that there is a more desirable standard and that things that are imperfect are less desirable. You can also see this applied to the emotional realm — dark, ugly or negative emotions are deemed dysfunctional; if we are not happy, we need to take a pill to feel better.
So, we all grow up with some kind of ideal that really has nothing to do with our personal beliefs or reality (accepting what actually exists and saying, "I am not perfect, and that is okay"). Over time, we create a set of standards that none of us can possibly live up to, and so we have a tendency to beat ourselves up or become critical with much of what we attempt (which leads to depression).
When stumped or lacking inspiration, what do you use to kick your "creativity block" in the butt?
Do something else. The subconscious mind is always working on things for you and will often present things to you when you are doing something else. Walking is particularly good for this. I wrote down a quote recently by the author E. Annie Proulx, "Walking induces a trance-like state that allows the mind freedom and ease and encourages exploration of odd possibilities and improbable connections."