I’m blocked. I’m looking at Chapter 3 and it’s coming to the home stretch of being able to submit it as a sample chapter, and the ideas aren’t flowing.
The irony of this is I just wrote about what to do to unblock in last week’s post. But that’s how it always works, whatever I am meant to teach or share, that lesson will be full-fledged in my face. Welcome lesson.
I adore the work of other artists. They inspire me with their imagination and their original voices. Watching my Pinterest feed, I am in awe! But too much looking at other artists blocks me, especially when I am creating my own project.
I looked to the masters for advice. I took out the book, Rising Strong by Brene Brown. I sought out the book after finding it in Barnes and Noble, my church of books. Here I was, sitting on the floor cross-legged and tears of knowing were flowing down my cheek after skimming on a chapter and finding the one on Sewer Rats and Shame. I pushed them away before my stepdaughter could see it. Brown was writing about Comparing, my biggest vice.
“Another one of shame’s sidekicks is comparison…comparison sucks the creativity and joy right out of life. If our story includes shame, perfectionism, or comparison and we’re left feeling isolated or “less than,” we need to employ two completely counterintuitive strategies.”
Her advice is basically to tell your story to someone else, (would this work?), and to talk more lovingly to ourselves. I have a running dialogue in my head that isn’t pretty and was accumulated since I grew boobs. It is definitely the voice of shame and shame is mean and tells you how you suck. This piece of information was big for me. It was shame that was giving me headaches! Shame that was blocking my creative flow! It had a name and comparing was the disguise.
One of the hardest things about making this book has been asking myself, What makes this book special? Is it special enough? Which is a crap-load of old stuff to hit me with. What makes you special? How are you different then the person over there? Are you good enough?
I wrote last week about being Authentic. I think the antidote to the not enough’s, and comparisons, is being Authentic as possible. It’s the truest to you as possible.
Last week I talked about The Lab, that great hip hop dance group on World of Dance. Last week was the elimination rounds on the show and I hate the format. They are taking several dancers that in their own right that are wonderful and unique and pitting them up against each other. The Lab lost against a lithe little dancer who could bend like Gumby. We as the audience were forced to watch apples vs. oranges and the judges decide “who was better.” Isn’t that subjective? And why aren’t we honoring both styles? I am sure The Lab will recuperate and have now gained even more exposure for their dancing skills (they seem already pretty successful.)
So comparison has to have a winner, and that’s why it doesn’t work. Having to prove yourself or your work that it’s special? That’s a trap too and an evil one. My question would be, why aren’t they seeing what is special?
Now I do have a handicap against me — I’m Jewish and our culture pretty much was raised comparing. “Oh, look at so and so’s son. He’s went to Yale and is a Doctor. Isn’t that impressive?” Never mind that he’s a secret drug addict who cheats on his wife the first Friday of the month. Most folks are judged it seems on their education (because it is so valued in our culture), and on your job.
I come back to the creating part. You are working on a project. THE worse thing is to judge it in process. I share a story in my Help I’m Sensitive book. I took a NIA class and we were challenged with balancing poses. When I looked at yoga girl standing next to me in her perfect pose and matching yoga outfit, I fell right over. Pretty embarassing. But when I focused on my own core, my own body in straight line and how that felt, I had some amazing balance! I could stand like that for quite awhile. When we create we need to be enjoying the creating. Watch a kid draw or paint. They are messy, full of life and in the moment drawing or painting what they draw or paint. The worst thing would be to tell them to paint orange instead of red. You just cut off their flow, people!
And that’s essentially what I did by focusing on all the other “successful” artist’s accounts. I was watching yoga girl and telling myself how my orange should be red. And I wondered why no ideas would flow in there. I need to be that little kid again who has no knowledge of the world and what others are doing while painting their stuff animals blue and making an outfit of a tutu paired with a striped soccer shirt. It’s more of a protective mode I need to be in. To be able to shield her while she creates.
Brene Brown was right. I do need to talk more lovingly to myself. If had a child in front of me creating, I would see all that was beautiful and raw and magical in her/his art. I would not parent her with discounting and tell her it was not enough. Our expression needs self appreciation!
Until next Blog Tuesday, how are you going to stop your habit of comparing and focus more on the work? I give you great appreciation for what is raw and beautiful for what you are making. It is more than enough, in fact, it is SPECIAL.
Go check out my Express Yourself with Line and Alien Botany Class I am offering in the Fall. Early bird rate registration!