Don’t let your creativity be held to ransom by the opinion of others
In yesterday’s post I shared a quote from The Versions of Us by Laura Barnett, and today I have another one that resonated deeply:
She tells him about her writing, about her faltering attempt to finish a book: describes the plot, the characters, the setting. ‘It’s about working women, I suppose,’ she says. ‘Four women who meet at Cambridge, and then take a house together in London. Careers, friendship, big dreams.’ She pauses, offers him a smile. ‘And love, of course.’
He returns her smile. ‘Sounds fascinating. Do you have a title yet?’
Eva shakes her head, and tells him that she is worried she will never finish it, that she is too busy with [her daughter] Sarah; but that, if she is truly honest, she thinks she is afraid to finish and then find it isn’t good enough.
At this, Jim leans closer, his uncommon blue eyes fierce. His hand meets the tabletop with a dull thud. ‘Good enough for whom, Eva? Surely it only ever needs to be good enough for you?’
I love this.
Who am I trying to please with my writing? It’s all too easy to write for the approval of others. And to end up paralysed, unable to create.
So often we write with the people in mind who we hope will appreciate our words. Or maybe you’re an artist, painting for the approval of your contemporaries.
It’s not that the opinion of others don’t matter. It’s just that we mustn’t let our creativity be held ransom to our perceived sense of what others will think.
First and foremost, we create to please and satisfy ourselves.
Of course, I’m more than aware that sometimes we can be our own worst critic. But I wonder how often our self-critique is in actual fact built upon our perceptions of what others will think.
The danger of this fear of what others will think is that we never hit ‘Publish’. We let our work stay hidden away, free from being critiqued but also depriving the world of our gift.
If what we create isn’t ‘good enough’ in the eyes of others, so be it. There will always be people who don’t appreciate our work. We cannot let them stop us.
The only person your work needs to be good enough for is you.
Don’t hold back.
Image: Eddy Klaus