21 Oct 2015

Dear Creativity, is self-doubt inevitable?

Sylvia Plath once wrote “the worst enemy to creativity is self-doubt”

But why are so many artists riddled and hindered with self-doubt?

Most artists don’t perceive a clear distinction between themselves and their art. In fact many -although unconscious of the thought - genuinely believe that they are their art and their art is them. When a painter paints a picture, a poet writes a poem, a photographer snaps a photo, or a writer writes a book this creative endeavor is but an extension of the artist who produced it and an honest expression of their being, thus there exists for artists - who are tender and sensitive in nature - a huge risk of exhibiting that piece of work, as any praise or criticism of that work will be entirely received as praise and criticism towards themselves personally, and we all know that the wrong kind of praise can hurt just as much as criticism – in some cases even more than criticism - when it comes to those delicate and complex beings we call artists.
Art is personal; I once spoke to a talented painter who said to me that he only likes to sell his work to someone who will really love it, cherish it and appreciate it and give it the care and acknowledgment it deserves. Mohsin Hamid, author of The Reluctant Fundamentalist and Moth Smoke in a TV interview confessed that he hates it when people tell him they like one of his books more than the other and that to him this was the equivalent of criticizing his own children. Time and time again we hear artists refer to their work as their children; after all giving birth to a child is the ultimate act of creation, therefore, no wonder that artists can be crippled by a thoughtless or tactless word or opinion. There is no use in trying to convince artists to divorce themselves from their art but I have found that adopting the philosophy “You Are Just as Good as the Competition” quite empowering. You are as unique as only you can be, others may be unique in their own way, but you, you’re indispensable.