The fourth chapter in The Creative Spark is called The Crazies. Many writers of creative inspiration write about the negative voices in our heads: the judges, the critics, naysayers, all the people who ever told you you couldn’t. Bloomston calls them The Crazies.
I am not surprised that Bloomston brings them up. They are as much a part of the creative process as paper and fabric. They are in our heads and we all hear them whether we acknowledge them or not. “The Crazies are programmed to trip you up” (pg.21).
I hear them. They often tell me I am not good enough, need to do better, need to do more, need to spend more time, etc. It isn’t always possible, but when they tell me I need to do better, I try to listen by work on improving my skills. I also try not to get depressed. Examples of things I do are:
- Ripping out pillowcase cuffs when I sewed them on upside down
- Matching seams better
- Evening out topstitching
Using what they say often involves a lot of ripping. From my vantage point, my work is better when I try harder to do better.
Still, I don’t always like hearing what the critics have to say. They are never nice about my work and it isn’t always possible to be Zen about their words.
I have never wanted to be a full-time artist; I have always wanted to make what I want to make when I want to make it. This attitude gets me off the hook for most of the comments about being irresponsible and dooming myself to a life of “poverty, lack and struggle ” (pg.21). Still this work, especially since fabric and thread are so firmly rooted in the female realm, is not valued and that is painful to me. Even not being a full-time artist, I feel I have to explain or justify the time I spend on my work and what I make.
Bloomston has great strategies for banishing the Crazies. Chief among them is writing them down and enclosing the voices somewhere.
Being organized is another one. “Life generally tampers with creativity because being a grownup requires a great deal of organization and management” (pg.22). Being a grownup doesn’t mean you have to give up your creativity or the art you make. It simply means you have choices with regard to your art. Don’t let The Crazies become the buzzkill, the axman or the murderer of your dreams of art (pg.22), use their criticism to spur you on.
Bloomston also has great techniques for dealing with, if you can’t banish The Crazies: Play, Notice, box Them Up, Show Them the Door (pg.23).
And when you are being overwhelmed with the magnitude of the criticism, turn to your friends, your critique group, your sewing circle, for support.
If you work regularly you will succeed.