Wednesday, May 4, 2011

Of course you worry about what people will think

It's important to be cool. It matters that people notice and like the things that you've created. It's the very rare artist who doesn't care what people think of their work. Most of us are driven to create in order to communicate something profound that can't be properly expressed in ordinary words. It's a powerful and reassuring experience for the artist when someone in the audience gets that message and acknowledges it.

But there's a pitfall: If you focus on what other people will think of your work, you won't be able to create.

Remember that you can't enter the creative state of mind unless you feel confident that your work will make a difference. And the definition of "makes a difference" is very flexible — it depends almost completely on what you focus your attention on. If your attention is on what other people might think of your work, how can you feel confident? Other people's reactions are almost entirely outside of your control.

Here's my suggestion: Do your creative work on Tuesday night; then worry about whether you're cool or not on Wednesday afternoon. If those worries start to creep into Tuesday night, gently brush them aside, saying, "Please, just hold onto that very important thought, and bring it up in our Wednesday afternoon worry session, when we will cover it in exhaustive detail."

You may, of course, adjust the schedule to suit your own calendar. The point is that worrying about people — which is an undeniably important matter in life — must go into a different time slot from your creative work sessions.

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