Tag Archives: create

3 Tricks for Silencing the Self-Critic

I got my camera remote working yesterday which of course meant I had to play around a bit with some self- portraiture.

To be a bit transparent the result at the left here is about my fourth or fifth attempt. Every previous attempt had something I didn’t like about it, lighting, color, pose… the self-critic was in full effect as I sought to expose him through photographic imagery. (I’m not even sure I like THIS one the best but I had to just shut him down.)

Having just been through the battle against the self-critic I thought I’d share a couple tricks for defeating that nagging voice that stifles creativity and oft times leaves us staring at a blank page.

Trick #1: Dust
I find it incredibly difficult to come up with ANYTHING creative when my office is in a shambles, the state in which it most typically exists. It’s funny how much more easily the ideas start to flow when I have a clean desk. Even funnier that the process only gets better if the floor in front of my desk…which I cannot see when sitting there…is clean as well.

There is something about a well organized environment that frees up the mind to focus on being creative. In case you’re in need of a pithy reminder: Cleaning up your space allows the mind to race.

Trick #2: Doodle
Far too often we get focused on creating the specific outcome we’re after that we get bogged down at the start. Looking for just the right word, or chord, or color combination. One of the best ways I find to give myself a kick start is just to doodle.

Now, to be fair, I am a doodler. Most of my class notes, meeting notes, notebooks are filled with doodles. Doodles don’t take thought, they just take shape.

In this case though I don’t necessarily mean drawing squiggly lines. Doodling could be writing down bits of dime-store-novel-like dialogue. It could be putting on a piece of music and playing along with it. It could mean editing a photograph that has nothing to do with your current project.

Don’t let the critic tell you you’re wasting time doodling…you’re stirring the creative juices. You’re bouncing out of the rut you’re stuck in to get a different run down the path. The creative freedom of expression in doodling loosens up the log jam and get’s you going.

Trick #3: Drink
No, I didn’t pick this one just because it starts with the letter D, and yes, I know some people might find this one mildly offensive, but any college student can tell you that the first thing alcohol consumption does is lower your inhibitions. Guess what the self-critic is? An inhibitor!

There are actually studies that show that consuming a moderate amount of alcohol results in people engaging in more creative problem solving. Somehow loosing the inhibitors loosens the creative juice.

I’m not advocating getting sloshed, just a glass of wine or a good scotch will do the trick. But hey man, it’s science!

Next time you find the assembled self-critics yammering in your ear try these tricks to get them to just BACK OFF!

What other trick would you suggest for silencing self-criticism and getting a creative project moving to the next level?

You Are What You “Eat”

The events of the week here in Colorado Springs have been traumatic for a lot of people. The impact on the area will be felt for quite a long time. Of these things there is no doubt.

Having spent the last few days OUT of the area though I think I have experienced some immediate, tangible evidence of what we probably all already know. Our daily attitude can be, and for many IS, drastically shaped by the media we ingest.

Between our social media connections, email, texts, 24 hour news channels, tweets, grams, pins and pokes we’re bombarded by information and if we don’t turn it off from time to time it works like a hammer and chisel slowly shaping us into some sculpted form we may or may not have chose on our own.

Being in Southern California the last couple days took me out of the direct of influence of media about the fires here in Colorado.  Sure, CA has it’s own problems, but I was on a limited diet of media due to my schedule.

The mood that had pervasively taken over my psyche while I was here at home was decidedly lifted, even though circumstances at home hadn’t changed, my perspective was given a moments rest from the constant barrage of images and messages and I began to emerge from the funk I had been in.

As I watch our nation become more or more polarized around issues of politics, religion, and money I wonder if the constant hum of media in the background isn’t largely responsible. After all isn’t it the job of every new producer to turn molehills into mountains?

I’d like to suggest three practices, habits I’m going to try to build for myself, that I believe will help us take a few steps back from the brink that is eroding at our feet through constant media bombardment.

1. Disconnect from media inputs
Easy to say, harder to do. In this case though I don’t mean some sort of media fast for a few days. I mean regular scheduled intervals during the day where you just disconnect from media input for a minimum of three hours.

I choose that amount of time because I find that if I take a 3 hour flight somewhere my brain starts to think creatively on issues OTHER than what I’ve been hit with in media. It also cracks me up how fast people dive for their cell phones when a 3 hour flight hits the tarmac.

2. Develop a hobby
Yeah, sounds trite I know. What I strongly believe though is that when we engage in acts of creativity we turn on different parts of our brain. Rather than just analyzing information, chewing media stories down to the grisly bone, thumping away with the analytical side of our brains we need to engage the rest.

Developing a hobby that results in something tangible, a picture, a song, a poem, a cross-stitch, a doodle, a wood carving of a toothpick…leaves you with a reminder of the creative process. Sure, hobbies like running, biking, hiking etc are good but I’m after something that leaves me with that tangible evidence, that shareable fruit of my labors.

3. Dialogue with someone
This doesn’t mean argue and it doesn’t mean commiserate it means honest discussion about topics that interest you. Dialoguing broadens our perspective and opens up the possibility for new points of view. It also build relational bridges, far too many of which are being burned daily from what I can tell.

I really believe this combination can work as a prescription for changing moods and finding some relief from media created stress. I’ve gotten somewhat regular at 1 and 2 above. I need to practice 3 more often…any takers?

How much do you think media inputs effect your daily mood?

P.S.
Thanks to all those who’ve been praying for Colorado. The last few days have brought some stability, we’ll see how we go from here.