Many people think that being a little unstable is a pre-requisite for being a creative individual. While creative people of all kinds do have a more open and flexible approach to the world, and tend to challenge conventional wisdom, that doesn’t have to translate into general instability. But it’s true that professional creative careers are rife with conditions that provoke anxieties and bring up our insecurities. Here are four ways to combat that.
#1 tip for being an emotionally secure artist
Believe in yourself. Most often, creative people are introverted and self-deprecating creatures. The more they know about their craft, the more they realise they have yet to learn. Deciding to launch a professional creative career takes self-belief. So does realising you’re good at what you do, when your inner critic keeps insisting otherwise. Of course we need that critic to help us improve our technique, but often, it shouts too loudly and at inappropriate times, with generalised statements.
Believe what your audience on social media and ‘live’ says about you. Believe in the praise and the testimonials your peers give you. Take on board what sensible people say about your work. If you’re making great artworks and selling decent amounts of it, congratulations! You’re more than good enough, and you should allow yourself to believe it.
#2 tip for being an emotionally secure artist
Assess your strengths and weaknesses objectively and dispassionately. Too often our weaknesses can either eat away at our souls subconsciously or get ignored and trip us up unexpectedly. Get into the habit of making lists of your strengths and weaknesses (make sure you compare your career to those you aspire to) regularly. Read the ‘strengths’ one frequently. Make the ‘weaknesses’ one an ongoing project to conquer. Pick something from it that scares you but would make a qualitative difference to your career. Then brainstorm the steps you’ll need to take to turn it into a strength. Put these first steps on your ‘to do’ list and do one thing every single day that moves you towards your goal. Over the longer term, you’ll become much more secure in your strengths.
#3 tip for being an emotionally secure artist
Avoid over-confidence. The fact is many of us get subjecting to some pretty extraordinary projection in our jobs. People paint us as almost more than human or have a blanket good opinion of us. This is not healthy, but it comes with the territory. What you have to be careful to do is ensure that you never forget that you’re ordinary and have flaws. Know what they are and work on them continually. This will keep you grounded when the praise of others is all around you and you’re tempted to believe the bits that aren’t true. If you’re not good at assessing yourself, ask for reflections from those who are especially close to you and less ‘dazzled’. It may not be comfortable to do this, but it is valuable.
#4 for being an emotionally secure artist
Understand that your audience projects onto you because you do an extraordinary job. Performers especially suffer with this one. It’s part of what happens when someone steps on-stage. They’re there to represent something ‘larger than life’ and their talent simply underlines it. Some stagecraft philosophies postulate that what performers represent are nothing less than our ‘inner selves’ or even demons from hell and the gods.
With this capacity to trigger the deepest part of an audience’s psyche it’s no wonder that facing the projection process on-stage can be daunting for a performer. It’s the audience’s job to regard you as extraordinary while you’re on-stage. It’s yours to remember that you’re not, and that the contrast can leave you feeling a little inadequate. You’re not. You’re simply the ‘actor’ who wears that mask for them. Bear this in mind, and the whole process will start to feel more sane.
Feeling secure as an artist comes from knowing you’re in control of your creative life. To find out more about how to do that, download a free excerpt of ‘Organizing for Creative People’.