I am a free-spirited, creative woman working towards a long-time goal of reclaiming my Creative Confidence. I have been shifting my mindset to one of growth, spending the time to learn and allowing myself to listen to my heart more instead of just my over-active brain -chattering about ‘what if’s,’ fears and insecurities.
It took a great deal of time and effort to get to this place, but here I am, FINALLY sharing my journey, hoping to help others get through it too.
THE WORST ENEMY TO CREATIVITY IS SELF-DOUBT
Table of Contents
MY STORY – WHY I LOST MY CREATIVE CONFIDENCE
Negative thinking had so much to do with my lack of creative confidence, after a couple of ‘failures,’ AKA: lack of planning and effort on my part, I thought my creative MOJO was gone FOREVER. I truly did.
Suddenly I was always terrified of spending time on anything creative in case it didn’t ‘turn out’ as I expected. I thought that another failure would simply validate the inevitable truth that my creativity was just gone.
I spent two LONG years in that creative rut, feeling miserable, searching for something to get myself out of it until something clicked, and something I read clicked!
FINALLY got it; It was my closed mindset causing the problems, not my creativity!
AHA – A REALIZATION THAT STUCK!
My BIG ‘light bulb moment’ was when I fully understood…
Procuring creativity is a process, not something that effortlessly pours out of everyone ALL THE TIME….
It soon became my new job to try and retrain my mindset to one of learning and growing. I used and abused myself without putting the proper care structure in place to make sure I could adapt again because creativity is inherently nonlinear; learning, challenge and growth must be a constant.
I am certain i will still have less than creative moments, but I know I have an option to apply the tried-and-true fix, not slip into despair, thinking it was gone like before.
FINALLY STARTING SOMETHING NEW
I have long dreamed of a better way to share what I have learned over the last 16 years about making and SELLING DIGITAL PRODUCTS ONLINE, and I was EXCITED! It can finally happen, I was in a good, positive place for learning, and now, here I am!!
The loss of my creative Confidence was 100% due to my own neglect.
If YOU are feeling less than confident about your creative passions, keep reading below and think about how you can fit in Creative Mindset work into your life. I promise, if you take responsibility for your negative thoughts about your creative skills, put in the time to shift your mindset about what you believe it means to be creative, you will improve your life and your art.
FREE PRINTABLE CREATIVE JOURNAL INSERTSDOWNLOAD NOW
These printables are free to download and come in either 8.5×11 or 6.5 x 8.5 inches. If you want to print them smaller, the printer settings for size can be adjusted within your printer software.
Print them out, punch holes or glue them down onto regular notepaper in your journal with some double-sided adhesive! Whatever works for you to build and work at maintaining your creative confidence habits.
INCLUDED IN THIS DOWNLOAD:
- Note-to-self printable log sheet
- To do list printable.
- Ideas Brainstorm sheet.
When I first began this journey, I was not a regular journaler; actually, I had big-time resistance when it came to writing down my thoughts and feelings. I decided to use a note-to-self style page like this one because of the simplicity; I didn’t over-think it as much.
HOW TO USE:
- Add a date
- explain how you are feeling, RAW style, no filters.
- Imagine that you just received the above as a letter from a friend, reply to your ‘friend’ to comfort or encourage her, as you would…
- Take that thoughtful response from ‘a friend’ and use it.
I tried to use it every day, getting in a routine is difficult for me, although I didn’t want anyone else to read it, I left this on my desk, where I could see it.
When I felt negativity creeping up in what I was doing, I would write down what I was feeling, raw words, swearing and all because this was only for ME; I needed it to be honest.
Going back on it a few weeks later, when I was not in the throes of a creativity tantrum, I could not believe how hard I was on myself! No wonder I was scared to move forward on something new, I was my own worst enemy. I am so thankful I had my ‘friend’ to encourage me to keep going and work through it.
Writing it all down helps, and without it, I think I might still be stuck.
A cute, standard to-do list printable note page. Who doesn’t need one of these? The beauty is you can print this out as many times as you need. Even daily.
Get those creative ideas out! Even ones that you think are “dumb.” Use this page to brainstorm all your thoughts.
I hope these printable sheets can be useful for you, and If you have any suggestions of matching pages that I could add to make it even more helpful, don’t be shy, leave a suggestion, I may just add it when I have time!
WHAT IS A CREATIVE PERSON?
Even if you don’t think you currently do anything to express yourself creatively right now or think it is all that useful…
YOU ARE A CREATIVE PERSON, DARLING!!!!
Being creative isn’t just about putting color on paper, writing down words or stringing notes together to make a beautiful melody….
The point of creativity is to think of new ways to solve the same problems.
In the book Wired to Create -SCOTT BARRY KAUFMAN & CAROLYN GREGOIRE talk about the messy “imagination network” that exists in our human brains and shine a light on the practices and habits of highly creative people, breaking it down into easy to digest actionable tasks… something that all of us can embrace and put in the work.
Creative people are particularly good at exercising flexibility in activating and deactivating these brain networks that, in most people, tend to be at odds with each other. In doing so, they’re able to juggle contradictory modes of thought—cognitive and emotional, deliberate and spontaneous. Even on a neurological level, creativity is messy.
I got a lot from this read; the authors go into detail about how we can do the work to augment this cognitive flexibility, developing creativity as a habit, a way of life or a unique style of engaging with the complexities up there in our own ‘imagination network.’
It is all about the process of finding Creative Confidence for yourself, and that realization is key to acknowledging your originality.
Just remember, you are already a creative individual; you were born that way.
WHAT IS CREATIVE CONFIDENCE?
Creativity is the use of imagination or original ideas, especially in the production of artistic work,
Creative Confidence is what keeps you going and creating what you feel moved to create or express.
Creative Confidence pushes you forward in the direction you want to go, even when you aren’t 100% sure and even after the ideas don’t work. It is your Creative Confidence that will keep you experimenting with new ideas instead of avoiding them.
HOW DO YOU BUILD CREATIVE CONFIDENCE WITHIN YOURSELF?
So, now that we have established what creative Confidence is let us talk about how one builds it! First things first…
- You ARE naturally creative -born with it, baby!
- Creative Confidence is a learned skill
- You must dedicate time to working on it, always.
- Your creativity will bring something of great value to your life if you reach and reclaim it.
You may be wondering at this point, who are YOU to think you know this stuff, Carrie Stephens?
Well, and to that I say… You are a smart cookie for wondering!
I am NOT an expert or a therapist, just a regular ole’ creative gal with a super messy brain who has been struggling for years with feelings of inadequacy in relation to creativity. I have been learning, reading and doing and have finally found a solid direction to go in, putting advice into action that FINALLY sunk in my messy brain.
I see actual progress within myself, and I’m FEELING EXCITED to share!!!
I am still in the process of LEARNING what works and sharing it while in progress, and I hope that you can learn from bits and pieces of my own experience and make it work for you too! It is all about finding out what works well for your life, your way of thinking… there is no magic system.
Yeah, I do still occasionally feel like I am just running headfirst down the path, but at least I am much closer each time to stopping the cycle of burning myself down every time things don’t go as planned.
Building myself up and learning techniques was, and still will be a LONG process… while I am finding that the ‘slip-ups’ are getting further apart, and the ‘recovery’ from the dark place I go to when I feel like I failed is not as deep, I still see the light shining through, if that makes sense.
I know that I am not careful, it can quickly shift in the wrong direction, and that is the most important realization.
THIS TAKES CONSISTENT WORK and practice
Download my free planner inserts above, subscribe to the inspirational zest newsletter to JOIN ME on this creative journey!
MY FAVOURITE CREATIVE ENCOURAGEMENT & RESOURCES
Since YOU are the only one responsible for building up your Creative Confidence, it is essential to leave your mindset open for growth.
It makes it easier when you come to accept that it is okay to STRUGGLE at first with changes in behaviours, and resistance is going to happen for those who don’t dig change!
The best thing is, regardless of what anyone says, you don’t have to follow a specific plan or book to build your Confidence, instead read plenty while picking out the good bits and bobs that fit into your life in your own time frame.
You are inherently creative; it is okay to struggle but know, you can do this, just put in the time to explore, write things down and form YOUR CREATIVE CONFIDENCE PLAN as you go!
These are some of the invaluable resources that sparked my curiosity and have been helping to hone my messy imagination network!
These resources allowed me to feel like it was okay to struggle, but at the same time, reminded me that it was how it was supposed to be and it was worth fighting the resistance.
I enjoyed THIS TED TALK BY DAVID KELLY about building creative Confidence. David shares a couple of stories about how our life experiences shape our thoughts right into adulthood, eventually allowing them to develop through our adult life and making us fear judgement.
There may have been times in your life that someone told that you are not creative or felt it after showing off something you were proud of, only to have it poo-poo’ ed well, you may find this talk worth a listen. A reminder that this is the most common way our creative spirits are squashed as we enter adulthood. This talk can be applied to almost every kind of creative pursuit, whether it is innovating new solutions or simply sharing our different opinions.
Up next was Elizabeth Gilbert’s MAGIC LESSONS! The book and the podcast, but especially the podcast. She had me in tears -so many realizations about how I was the one making these choices for myself.
I was stuck in a rut doing the same things, day in and day out with my freelancing and not really making discoveries or working towards anything creative, just doing what I knew because I was scared and not feeling confidant in my creativity and ability to find innovative solutions for the problems I was facing.
In magic lessons, Elizabeth walks about creativity, fear, making stuff for the pure pleasure and joy of it. The Magic lessons podcast is also where I am introduced to the words of Brene Brown.
Creative confidence is not elusive, you can be a carefree creative most of the time if you do the work!
BRENE BROWN a research professor, studying vulnerability, Imperfection, leading the way, and so much more. Brene’s podcast and books don’t focus exclusively on creativity. Still, she hits the nail on the head almost whenever it comes to self-worth, shame, accountability for self, vulnerability and more.
There is so much more to permitting ourselves to be creative without holding back and getting stuck doing the same things because it is comfortable.
Allow yourself to be uplifted and surprised by this woman’s magical GIFT to resonate and inspire. Listen to her calming voice while you walk, and just you wait till the creative inspiration hits you!!
THE WORST ENEMY TO CREATIVITY IS SELF-DOUBT
Why is it that so many truly creative people lack Confidence and have doubt in their abilities?
At least that is what it feels like from my perspective. So many talented women surround me, all with different skill sets, but very few of them can just run with a creative idea without a huge internal struggle first.
Is this something you struggle with too?
Having plenty of creative ideas, things that spark so much excitement at first, but simply don’t get the life they deserve because of FEAR to do it.
The thing that always held me back the most was, what if I spend all of this money on supplies, and then it doesn’t turn out the way I pictured it? What if I spend all my time on it and…
Well, realistically, I would have taken what I learned and tried again!
The same thing we tell our children? 😉 If at first, you don’t succeed, try, try again!
What I realize now…
What held me back was my thought process about failure and building essential fortifying creative habits like, journaling, daily sketching. All of those necessary practices were non-existent, so of course, I lacked Confidence!
I wasn’t prepping for the main events. I just closed my eyes and jumped right to the big things!
Yes, I Still Struggle.
Yup, even though I have been working on it hard and I’m now confident I know what I need to do, the struggle is still there to remind me.
On occasions, I still lack the Confidence needed to implement ideas without pulling out every tool in my creative confidence toolbox, but it is a good thing! I realize that now…
It doesn’t mean I’m not creative though, when I hop on the mental struggle bus, it no longer sends me into a full-blown, month-long debate about creative endeavours not being for me.
That is the difference creative confidence-building has made.
Right now, my fear is this blog.
New to me, I have never considered myself a writer or a teacher.
I have always liked to help and share which lead me to this in the first place, I just never thought I could write something that someone else would read in any other format other than a Facebook group or a forum. -dating myself there.
Ready for some GREAT news?
Here I am, still pushing through this hard part, doing and re-doing again because the desire to create a space where I can reach out, help others and bring joy is stronger, and I have more Confidence than ever in my ability to push through these hard things!
While I am still not accomplishing as quickly as I expect myself to, now that I have a reliable process… it’s improving.
I am sticking to my creativity journal, writing out all the odd and sometimes very random stuff living in my messy brain just permitting myself to embrace the messy failures
The TRUST within MYSELF is building STRONGER; the self-talk is getting QUIETERthus, the STRUGGLE to be creative without the negativity busting in and making me doubt what I am doing doesn’t take quite as much brainpower!
THAT IS A WIN I wish for everyone, extra brainpower -especially for us mom’s over 40! LOL ;P
MY TIPS FOR RECLAIMING CREATIVE CONFIDENCE AS AN ARTIST.
Yes, I said, reclaiming Creative Confidence. You were confident until YOU told yourself that you weren’t or allowed someone else to make you feel like you weren’t.
Creativity is already in you; it’s merely a matter of learning techniques, embracing your messy creative brain for what it is, giving yourself full permission to practice, fail and learn!
Vulnerability needs grace, especially from yourself.
Below are some tips that I have learned along my journey to stop overthinking and reclaim my own creativity by building necessary practices that cared for my creativity like it was an irreplaceable secret treasure. –because it is!!!
I hope you find something of value to help you in your creative journey, whatever that looks like!
LEARN TO SPOT UNNECESSARY NEGATIVE SELF-TALK
The more afraid I would get, the more ruthless my brand of negative self-talk got. None of it was necessary, and all of it was the way I was holding myself back.
It wasn’t because I wasn’t good enough, I was just too scared to fail, even though I was already miserable. I was so frozen by my lack of Confidence to try to make a change in any direction.
I would tell myself things like:
- “You’re just not as ‘good’ as they are.”
- “That is such a dumb idea; no one will like that.”
- “This will just be something else that you will start and never finish.”
- “You are so impulsive… don’t say anything because you will say something stupid.
Sound familiar to you, too?
No one ever actually said those things to me; they would say the opposite, and I would tell myself they were lying to be kind.
Why did I choose to believe those things were true?
I didn’t realize it at the time, but I was pulling this hate for myself out of thin air because I was scared of failing. It seems so counter-intuitive now… how in the world would did I expect ever to reach my potential if I was always diminishing my ability to make positive changes in any direction? It made no sense at all to expect myself to be perfect, but that is what I did for years.
I decided to start writing to myself as a friend.
Oddly enough, that dialogue only happened in my head. Once I started trying to write it down on paper, it became real.
Now, as soon as the wicked witch in my head starts telling me I can’t… I write it ALL down and acknowledge it. Just this simple switch made all of the difference in my world.
How to do it too
- Write the negative thought down when it happens. No filters!
- Respond to it as you would, your best friend had written that to you in a letter.
It completely changes your tone.
Suddenly, you have empathy for this ‘friend’ you would never tell her that she is stupid or just not good enough. Really, you would probably do everything you could to cheer her on in her journey.
I am seeing significant progress in turning my negative-self talk around and making it productive introspection by merely being persistent with this habit!!
WRITE IT OUT, WRITE IT ALLLL OUT!
I’m going to say this again….
Writing things down in a journal of some kind is more important than I ever imagined.
I didn’t enjoy writing and was a real resister. I scoffed at the idea of spending my precious creative time writing instead of making art. I am a visual artist, stimulated by colour & pattern, why in the world would I need to write down words?
I was so wrong.
I attribute many self-inflicted creative fears and giving up to a lack of writing in a journal.
If I would just have written it all down, regardless of how neat it was, what order or if it even made sense, I could have gone back on all of those great ideas that I had or related a struggle with another similar time I had in the past.
All of the chitter-chatter can block your best ideas if it just stays around in your head with no place to go, but the chatter is also supper forgettable if it includes bits and pieces of the personal things that inspire your best ideas and makes you tick.
But… That was then!
I know better now. It’s a learning process for us all.
If you don’t think that you have time to write it all out in a journal, hey, that is okay, there are other ways to go about getting the thoughts out of your head, and you can easily modify to a digital method.
For example: If you find yourself alone in the car, load up your favourite note-taking app, pop in those earbuds and dictate your thoughts. *before you leave the driveway and start driving, of course!
Google voice assistant is the best voice to text out there that I have personally tried, but my dilemma was that I use Microsoft 365 for everything. I took the time to set up a zap using zapier, and it helps OneNote and google-assistant work together.
DON’T FORGET TO DOWNLOAD THE FREE PRINTABLES ABOVE!
FOCUS ON HOW CREATING MAKES YOU FEEL!
What is is about creating something that you enjoy? The finished product or the PROCESS.
Creativity is all about the process of getting lost in another reality, perhaps feeling youthful and unburdened by whatever else is going on in your life.
The process of creating is food for our heart, mind and soul! When you feed yourself properly, creating can help you make sense of something on your mind or even help you feel restful and relaxed, ready to take on other challenges. It is always good to have less clutter just hanging around up there in your head.
Yes, it is nice to have a beautiful finished creation at the end, but unless you are a professional artist with a deadline looming, is it really about the finished product or the process?
When you focus on the process of making & not just the result, you challenge your expectations.
I took awhile of repeating it to myself and sinking it into my brain, but I now really focus on the fact that not everything I create needs to be a work of art, a gift, something I will sell or even publish for the world to see.
It takes the pressure off! Sometimes, I need to make a paper flower craft that sits in a vase and reminds me that I can learn a new tool -like the Cricut or Silhouette cutting machine
Make art journal page that expresses my emotions, happy or sad or sometimes just a bunch of scribbles on a page, FUSSY CUTTING COLLAGE IMAGES or colouring in a COLOURING PAGE on my iPad while watching tv!
The creative process itself is where the BIGGEST reward lies
MAKE TIME FOR YOURSELF TO DO THE THINGS
Creativity is a choice, but time is often a restriction, making creativity the first one to get cut from the schedule.
I put it on my schedule as a necessity, but many times, how I am feeling and what I NEED emotionally dictates what creative activity I do that is just for me. The what is loose, the time spent is not.
You can’t just be creative by thinking about things; there has to be a point where you use your intuition to do and experience something new so it is a must in my life.
TIME-SAVING TIPS FOR GETTING CREATIVE:
- Batch work
It is so much easier to batch work in an art journal, depending on the mood I am in. I can get out of my thoughts and doodle on an already painted page from the day before, or if I have time and want to get messy, I crack open the paint and paint several backgrounds at the same time!
- Refer to your brainstorming journal
If you find yourself spending too much time thinking of ideas when you have time to be creative,
- Use printables and art from magazines!
You don’t have to reinvent the wheel every time you want to create something. If you find that you are short on time, but want to get out a feeling, you can use tools like digital stamps & die-cuts or stencils and stamps, magazines, old newspapers and more.
These items help make visual interest in your art without having to think of new marks or drawings to make each time.
If you are a card maker or enjoy making Cricut crafts, there is no shame in purchasing your SVG files, so you don’t have to make them from scratch and can just get on with the fun crafting part!
If you are VERY short on time, try combining some of your goals or to-dos as outlined below!.
- Have a digital detox day!
Oh, that sounds scary, doesn't it? Haha You won't die, in fact, you will feel better after!
I am sure I spend way more time on social media, on my phone and just doing things that waste time than I really should. If I want to make more time in my life to do something that I put off and just can’t seem to get done, I would have to say, shutting off my phone and computer would free up at least an hour or more out of my day.
I have done it, it is hard, i admit and I am sure I should do it more often; how about you?
MAKE THE THINGS YOU THINK WILL FAIL
How do you know if an idea is creative?
You will know because the first thing you think is….
There is no way I will be able to pull that off, and you get tempted to avoid it altogether.
Make failure a part of the creative process, it doesn’t feel great to fail, BUT without failing, there is no innovative learning, it is just more rounds of the same, familiar stuff, and that is boring!
Failure is necessary to LEARN. Failing at something does not mean YOU as a person are inherently a failure
So just stop talking yourself out of doing something because you are afraid to fail or afraid that Tom, Bob or Jennie may not like it!
DON'T BE AFRAID TO ‘STEAL LIKE AN ARTIST'
“Good Artists Copy; Great Artists Steal”. – Picasso
Uh oh, did I just say steal and art in the same sentence?
This idea isn’t new, but the “steal like an artist” is a concept introduced in an easy to understand, little book by Austin Kleon -Steal Like an Artist. It is a thought-provoking and even controversial stance for some.
The premise is, “NOTHING is completely original, all creative work builds on what came before…” lean on embracing influence instead of running away from it.
We all learn or are inspired by…. aka steal ideas from somewhere, whether intentionally or unintentionally, and it’s time we admit it.
I enjoyed THIS INTERVIEW from Adobe Creative Cloud, where Mr. Kleon elaborates on the Stealing an idea vs copying concepts.
Stop wasting precious creative time trying to reinvent the wheel; it’s already as good as it can be; just make your unique interpretation of it!
The book is VERY worthwhile keeping on your shelf.
DON'T MAKE IT FOR EVERYONE ELSE!
MAKE IT FOR YOU!
Andy Warhol said it best: Don't think about making art, just get it done. Let everyone else decide if it's good or bad, whether they love it or hate it while they are deciding, make even more art.”
I spent two entire years trying to change my style of art when the big watercolor fad started; I just kept thinking, I must do that to be relevant.
While I think watercolor art is beautiful, that is not what I wanted to make! I wanted to make sloppy art when I wasn’t sitting at my computer for my day job.
Being relevant isn’t always necessary. Once people grow tired of seeing the same thing, you are ahead of the game, because you don’t have to modify and move to another trend, just keep doing you!
Goal setting is not easy for everyone, especially my peeps, who tend to resist schedules. Doubling down and fitting two things into a single time slot could be the ticket to being less resistant to making goals that are kept!
EXAMPLES OF COMBINED GOALS
- EXERCISE + BRAINSTORMING
Dictate Your brainstorming session while walking 3 days during the week. Get all your creative thoughts and ideas out while getting a sweat on! -I like to use google voice to text!
- BEING MORE CONFIDENT + MAKING MORE ART
Share a photo of your art on your Instagram stories, personal or private after each art session, no matter what the final result to jumpstart a practice of being more confident in who you are.
- NETWORKING & FRIENDSHIP + ART
If you want to network and meet others, extend the invitation to friends to bring friends! The Creative hobbies don’t have to be the same, some friends may crochet, some may colour, and some may doodle or scrapbook as long as it is a portable hobby, its good to do while having a drink and chatting.
Goal set responsibly!
Don’t bite off more than you can chew when it comes to goals, especially if you are newish to making them. Baby-steps to creative liberation!
So ultimately, I just want to say, you can do it & I'm cheering you on!!
Everyone is creative. Don’t hold yourself back from reclaiming your Creative Confidence to create your version of art how you want and do it more often.
Getting yourself into the purposeful writing habit that I mention above will hopefully be something that you embrace fully and help you along the way. It truly worked for me and has ultimately helped in all areas of my life, not just my creativity.
HEY, BEFORE YOU GO…
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Carrie Stephens <3