Creativity and the Monsters Part One : Part Two
p a r t t w o
Creativity and the Monsters
Befriending the monsters
Befriending the monsters means shifting your awareness from a negative attitude to one open to opportunity. It means seeing beyond that enchanted mirror, which reflects only a flattering but false image of your over-puffed ego. It could happen only if you’re wise enough to realize that the ten monsters are a blessing in disguise. Of course you know that true friendships, like true love, are never based on appearances.
Since you’re reading this page you must be a creative person. You can take on a new challenge. You have a hero’s heart (even if you haven’t discovered this yet) and a wondrous right brain — which is actually all that is needed to start and keep a friendship. The monsters know that — they’re intelligent. That’s why they’re always there, watching over whatever you do and waiting for the right time, the time you’ll ask them to step into your creative life, to be friends. Remember, they’re not intruders.
So, are you ready to experience your life’s most fascinating friendship? If yes, read the rest of this article.
WHAT YOU NEED TO DO
1. Get rid of the wrong belief that the ten monsters have bad intentions — making such assumptions could hurt your creativity.
Approach them with a broad smile and get reacquainted with them. Learn as much as you can about your ten new friends.
Admit to yourself you’re not perfect. Yes, you’re a great person but you do have your bad days and one or two weaknesses. Of course the monsters aren’t perfect either. Why should they be? They have their own flaws (just like us!) — or some of their characteristics are perceived as such by us humans. After all, you cannot learn their true nature if you keep avoiding them. Don’t fall into the trap of disapproving of them or fearing them, only because they’re different from your “Fit to be my Friends” standard. Give them a chance — give yourself a chance too.
We creative souls, have been born in this world to bridge these differences, to bring together all living creatures, all things and all forces, to make the world a loving and fulfilling place. Creativity does not separate, disperse or divide.
For a start, why not get closer with the Change Monster you’ve been strongly driven away from and the Ambiguity Monster you couldn’t stand? Perhaps a change is not what you have been looking forward to but if it is inevitable or if the time has come for you to move on in your life and do other things, let it be — change plans, change your environment, change what you’re hoping for, change your creative endeavors. Creativity itself is endless Change. Set your priorities and go for it.
Also, don’t forget Change has a room-mate: Ambiguity. They’ve been living under the same roof for ages. Don’t worry. It is O.K. not to be certain of the outcome of your creative work. It is O.K. not to be sure whether you’ve made the right choices or decisions or took the best road in your creative life. It is O.K. to become aware that there is no right choice or decision or best road to take. Just take one and enjoy the adventure.
2. Friends talk to each other — they’re open and treat one another with honesty, trust and thoughtfulness.
Do not hesitate to tell the Failure-to-Reach-your-Goals Monster and the Mistakes Monster about your thoughts, your plans, your dreams and your feelings. Tell stories of how succeeding makes you feel and how hard you’ve often worked for success. But be very careful: This is not the time to remember stories of your old failures and dump the responsibility on the monsters’ faces. Instead, let them know how inspiring you find the whole idea of being friends with them. And then listen carefully to what they’re telling you. I bet they, too, will be very excited about having you as a friend.
Ask them for feedback, tips and advice, concerning your creative projects. Ask questions like: What do you think was well done in this specific creative project? Why do you think so? What do you believe needs to be improved or changed in my creative work? Is there anything I’d better do away with — something that blocks my creativity and I’m not aware of? (Or, something that’s “not so smart, not so helpful” to be sticking onto?) This could be a procedure, a method, a technique, a point of view, a tool, a material, a customer etc.
It is not the case that what you’ve done (or created) so far was wrong — it was all fine, for THEN. The case is that NOW you’ve reached a point in your creative life where you either got to take a different road to further your improvement or continue the same road but with a different type of vehicle. You cannot rise to greater heights if you’re flying on the wings of a butterfly. Take a jet plane. That’s what the Failure-to-Reach-your-Goals Monster and the Mistakes Monster are telling you.
All the monsters will love sharing secrets with you and offering you advice. And the best part is that they won’t get angry if you don’t take it. Friends can have different viewpoints and different priorities as well. You don’t have to solve every issue you’ve got with the Self-doubt Monster — having a little self-doubt may be proof you’re humble. Highly creative people are humble. You don’t have to agree with all the changes the Change Monster is suggesting, either. You have the right to set your priorities and make your own decisions. Also, if you don’t feel ready to reach a conclusion, don’t. Allow Time to draw the conclusions for you. So, go on, invite your new friends to join you for a conversation. Have trust in yourself; you are able to use your creativity to tactfully avoid any conflict that would be about to arise.
3. Do things together — have fun.
You’ll discover that, contrary to what you thought so far, the monsters believe in you, they care about you and you can count on them. You can rely on the ten monsters — they make great partners for your creative endeavors. But you need to encourage them.
Some of them, like the Being Trapped Monster and the Criticism Monster or the Self-doubt Monster have been feeling unwanted and lonely for such a long time that they’ve forgotten what’s it like to do things with a friend. You yourself have been fighting them for quite a long time, too. Smile at them, cheer them up, give them a hug. It is true that losing control of your freedom to create is frightening for a creative person. So is the thought of being criticised.
Instead of treating these three monsters as trouble-makers, try to see the new opportunities they’re opening up to you. Team up with them for a joint project. What new ideas are triggered when you’re feeling trapped? Feeling trapped could make an artist produce a masterpiece or writer write a best-seller or a businessman create an innovative product or a new market. What are the benefits of having your creative endeavors criticised ? Actually, there may be some seeds of truth in any kind of criticism — that’s good because you’ll know those seeds and improve yourself and your craft. Constructive criticism shows you the way to open up to new learning, new ideas, new associations of things and new perspectives.
The Not-fitting-in Monster and the Risk-taking Monster are playful creatures. Try to enjoy risking a little something of your creative life once in a while, only for the experience — it’s liberating. Or, start a new project inspired by your risk-taking attitude and your not-fitting-in experiences. Could not-fitting-in mean you’re so different that you are probably fit to be an innovative leader in your craft? Most inventors and great writers of the past were aware that solitude was their best companion.
Even if the creative outcome of your playing together with these two monsters is far from what you expected, not really what you hoped for, it doesn’t matter. Ask that judge in your mind to hush — tell him you’re having fun and you won’t allow him to spoil your play time.
4. Show the monsters you appreciate their friendship.
The monsters are givers. They take friendships seriously. And they don’t hold grudges for your past “sins.” What are you able to give them back for treating you nicely?
How about starting with telling the Mistakes Monster and the Market’s Rejection Monster about the things you’ve learnt from them and how they’ve helped you improve your ideas and creative projects? Make a graph of your progress to show them that you value the difference they’ve made in your creative life — every little step up the heavenly staircase into the wondrous world of creativity matters. Say “Thank you” and mean it.
Show your respect them by keeping your promises. For example, if you promise the Change Monster and the Risk-taking Monster that, to honor their friendly advice, you’re going to take a risk and accept some change in your creative life, do it. Once you’ve promised the Self-doubt Monster that you’re going to take classes to hone your skills and perfect your craft, do it. If any of the monsters gives you his word that you’ll do something together (which will open the doors of happiness for you) and later on takes it back, how would you feel? Hurt? Monsters’ feelings get hurt too. Don’t disappoint them or lie to them.
A FINAL WORD
It is far better to go on the journey of creativity with friends than alone. If you take the challenge of making friends with the monsters you’ll discover that interdependence is to be valued as much as independence — or even more. Nothing great in history was the work of one only mind without the contribution of others; there was, at least, some dependence on work done by antecedents.
When you try to understand the ten monsters they will no longer be a threat to you. Misunderstanding, great expectations of others and wrong assumptions are at the base of all wars and arguments.
Get reacquainted with the ten monsters and build a new bond with them which will make your creativity flourish. If you hold them close to your heart you’ll keep them away from your nightmares. •
© 2013 Maria Chatzi. All rights reserved.
Maria Chatzi is a teacher, jewelry artist, and craft designer who loves nature, learning and helping adults and kids discover their creative side. More »