Sunday, 10 March 2013

Being Creative: Thinking and Confidence

I  noticed in my last post I'd written that I was still 'too scared to stock my on-line shop'. I'm making up samples for a new class and it got me thinking about the fact  prospective students are often anxious about coming to class, because they are worried about 'not being good enough'. What do you think about this? I've always struggled with negative thoughts about my creativity, and  recently, made some discoveries.

Having lots of different skills is useful, but I used to think every new project I produced should be equal to an expert specialising in their particular skill.  Although things usually turned out reasonably, I felt a failure, 'not good enough'. I thought I must design and make detailed, time consuming projects to a high standard, or nothing I created would ever be good enough to show the world; but why was this? As a child I'd draw and stitch showing my creations without any thought of  perfection,  just happy in the joy in making.

So what changed? At age 9, we moved and my first report at the new school (from nice teacher I liked) contained the words 'not good at craft or games'. The craft project, in this case, was making a space station out of washing up bottles - a la Blue Peter! I dreaded it, as did most of the girls in my class!

Dear old John Noakes doing something in the 1960's with Fairy Liquid and a cardboard box - again. Loved BP except the 'makes'!
The new school didn't do any sewing and the teacher had never seen anything I had made. The damage, however, was done. Someone in authority had written down that I was 'not good at craft'. It must be true!
So, I stopped doing anything creative, and was unhappy. It wasn't till years later I finally tried creating again, although I was still afraid to show anything I'd made.  It took  a lot of hard work to overcome my negative thoughts. One of the reasons for starting a creative blog was to help me get over my reticence.  I knew I had to finally change how I thought. Once I took the first steps to share my creativity, I discovered kind friends who encouraged and supported me, helping me to gain confidence. Eventually by changing the way I thought, and having support and encouragement from friends and family, I began to change my life, doing things like writing patterns and instructions, and teaching classes. Learning to think  'I can do that, and I can do it in my own unique way',  opened up so many possibilities.

Sharing knowledge and showing people that they can be creative is an amazingly powerful thing. thing. Socrates has a great quote “I cannot teach anybody anything. I can only make them think”.
That's pretty much how I feel about running a class. Now, sharing creative knowledge helps me to feel  positive about my skills, and share other's delight at achieving things they've never done before.We learn so much from each other and have fun too! Taking those first steps in a supportive environment and seeing what can be accomplished is an amazing confidence builder.  No matter how experienced you are, you can always learn something new - and doesn't it feel great!

I thought I couldn't make clothing, but I was so proud I made a simple toddler's pinafore for Emily!

If any of these points resonate with you, or if you have any suggestions about overcoming negative thoughts, I'd love to hear.

Finally, 'cos we always love a cute doggie pic, here's the wonderful Shep, greatest BP pet ever, and a wish for a very Happy Mother's Day! x


  1. Perhaps the trick with learning new skills is convince yourself you are "just playing" - a reversion, if you like, to 8-year-old you, contentedly making things with no concern about the opinions of other people...

  2. .Mum.

    But everything you have made is beautiful and, even though I am old, there is a lot I want to learn from you. You have already given me lots of useful tips on Crochet work. Continue to surprise us with all your inspirations.

  3. How sad that we compare our work to others and categorize it! I agree with Rachel that we should just play, letting our inner child out to experiment and learn. Everything we do is an exercise in learning, even if all we learn is what not to do the next It's all in the attitude, and if you haven't read "The Artist's Way" by Julia Cameron or Sarah Ban Breathnach's "Romancing The Ordinary" I would encourage you to do so. Julia writes about our 'inner critic' and how to overcome this negative voice in our head. We each must find our own voice and express ourselves in our own unique way.
    Off my soap box Happy creating.

  4. Isn't it amazing how negative words we receive as a child can stay with us for so long? It's hard to get over them. However, when we break free from them, our lives are transformed. There is always someone that likes the things we do.
    You are NOT "good" at crafts. You are AWESOME, AMAZING, TALENTED, and down right INCREDIBLE! You are an ARTIST!
    Love ya sweets.

  5. Love the new blog font, Jules! The last one was a bit too 'stripped down' to complement your lovely work well enough.=)

    I agree with Michelle that you are indeed a great artist and one look at this and/or your art blog show that so clearly! Trouble is, many of us have crises of confidence and, sometimes, that's not a bad thing, 'cos it makes us stop and think about what we're doing a bit more than just going blithely on with something that we're over-confident about, but that really isn't worthy of us.=)

    I sympathise with your feelings as I would often be happy enough with my designs and ideas when I was at C&G classes until I saw that someone else had 'dome something better than me'. Now that I no longer have them to compare myself to, I look at my portfolios with pleasure again!!=) I need to build my confidence too and blogging does help. Even if you do something naff, there's always someone who likes it!!!=)

  6. Your comments so resonated with me. I am currently trying to enjoy doing and learning instead of producing...I am taking a course on creative art journaling and already I woke up with the negative comment running in my brain thinking that I shouldn't bother, as it is a waste of time....I quickly told myself that I am allowed to do it for the enjoyment alone...Unfortunatley many people have been damaged by a teacher, but we shall overcome and move forward..

  7. Oh boy did this resonate with me - more than I can even say in this small space! I struggle with this very issue so much, and it is heartening to know that even though you are an amazing artist, you also struggle with confidence issues. Thank you for sharing your struggle. It helps me to feel that I'm not alone, and that maybe my work is "good enough" after all!

  8. When I was at my grammer school I was not allowed to take Art as an exam subject as I wasn't considered good enough.My parents knew it was my passion and luckily for me enrolled me for a saturday class at the local Art School,I took the GCSE as a private student and passed with agood grade. But have always thought I am not very good at all I do. But somehow I just have to do it.Your drawing skills are so very good I envy you.I think the best thing is to tell ourselves frequently I'm doing this just for me and what follows is a bonus.

  9. Oh yes, I can relate to this post.

    Have you read the book "Art & Fear: Observations On the Perils (and Rewards) of Artmaking" by David Bayles and Ted Orland? You'll feel a LOT better after reading it! It's a tiny book but it cuts right to the chase. Moments like you describe with that thoughtless teacher no longer held so much power over me when I read this book.


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