Allowing yourself to spontaneously create art—without judging as you make—can be a challenge. Ignoring the inner critics, resistance or distracting negative thoughts takes bravery and a commitment to continue making art regardless. Why should you allow yourself to make “bad” or embarrassing art in the face of self-judgement? Lewis Hyde in The Gift quotes Allen Ginsberg, who speaks of spontaneous writing: “Spontaneous writing could be embarrassing… The cure for that is to write things down which you will not publish and which you won’t show people. To write secretly… so you can actually be free to say anything you want.”
Being able to create, without the art needing to be shown to anyone, or it needing to be “good” gives you freedom to explore more fully, perhaps in places you wouldn’t venture if you knew others were watching. Ginsberg again: “… settling down in the muck of your own mind… You really have to make a resolution just to write for yourself…, in the sense of not writing to impress yourself, but just writing what yourself is saying.” While Ginsberg talks of writing, this is relevant for any art medium. You have to make a resolution to make art for yourself so you can explore what wishes to be created within you. The letting go of seeking approval or validation from other people allows you to create for the sake of creating—to make art because you enjoy it.
The muck of your mind may surprise you with what it comes up with. Allow yourself time and space to be curious and go explore in the mud.
Wanting approval or feedback from others about your art when just starting out is understandable. We often ask others for opinions on other matters and so value an outsiders point of view. But if you’re only looking for external validation that what you’re doing is worth the time investment and the feedback isn’t 100% encouraging, you may find yourself disheartened (keeping your art secret may be a good idea).
Tara Mohr in Playing Big says “Feedback gives us facts about the opinions and preferences of those giving the feedback. It can’t tell you about your merit or worthiness. When we understand this, we’re free; we’re free to seek, gather, and incorporate feedback.” When creativity is subjective and personal taste so varied, there is no one ‘right’ opinion. When we let go of what other people think, we leave space to discover what we think. Being self-reflective about your own art helps grow tastes, preferences and your ideas as an artist. Seeking others opinions won’t get you any closer to discovering what art lights you up.
Mohr make the point that women are more likely to have a dependence to praise: “When a woman is trying to unhook from dependence on praises, it’s no trivial matter. She is working on retraining her mind from generations – old conditioning about what is required to survive.”
It’s no easy feat to let go of seeking eternal praise, especially when it can feel so good. But unhooking from the dependence of that praise and replacing it with your own feedback, your art doesn’t have to fit someone else’s expectations. You can instead get on with the fun task of making more art – art that you find interesting and you love to make.