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Some questions on creative self-confidence

When you refer to yourself as a writer, a photographer, an artist, a creative person – do you ever feel like a fraud? Like you’re willfully labeling yourself with something that you desperately want to be true, but that may not actually apply to who you are?

Mark Twain said, “Comparison is the death of joy.” How do you walk the line between appreciating others’ work, even learning from it, without allowing comparison with your own to creep in and cast a shadow over any satisfaction or joy you might feel?

Perfect is the enemy of good. Do you struggle with the desire for perfection in anything you do, to the point of not even bothering to try if you know you can’t possibly accomplish this feat? Do you have strategies that help you get past the perfection barrier?

What do you think?
Please share!

#fmsphotoaday October 1 - Something colourful

NaBloPoMo June 2014

(Originally posted in June, 2013.)

Laurel Storey, CZT – Certified Zentangle Teacher. Writer, reader, tangler, iPhoneographer, cat herder, learner of French and Italian, crocheter, needle felter, on-and-off politics junkie, 80s music trivia freak, ongoing work in progress.

{ 34 comments… add one }
  • Lily Leung June 7, 2014

    I do all the above – write, photograph, make art. But yes, I do feel like a fraud if I refer to myself as a writer, photographer and an artist since I’ve never published, other than blogs, These are hobbies and not livelihoods. Would I REALLY want to be authentically those titles? Not sure. Maybe I am afraid to fail/succeed.
    Lily Leung recently posted… FLICKERING LIGHT – Friday FictioneersMy Profile

  • nabanita
    June 7, 2014

    I feel it..I do…I know what you mean…Sometimes it affects me…I think it’s ok though as long as we don’t let it affect us much no?
    nabanita recently posted… Absence…My Profile

  • Kathy Widenhouse June 7, 2014

    Great thoughts. You needn’t be perfect to be excellent or good at what you do!

  • Melissa Senecal
    June 7, 2014

    My writing, blogging, creating is for ME! I don’t do it for anyone else and if someone likes it or they don’t is not the issue. It makes me happy, gives me a creative outlet and soothes my heart and my soul and that means more to me than anything.
    Melissa Senecal recently posted… Eight Ways to ThankfulMy Profile

  • Lana June 7, 2014

    I have always loved writing, and I’m new to blogging. I am enjoying having a place to write and share – but I’m afraid to call myself a writer. So many talented “writers” out there that I admire. Maybe one day!
    Lana recently posted… Hands, and Meeting a Blogging FriendMy Profile

  • Joyce
    June 7, 2014

    I have the same manuscript I’ve been kicking around for years because I have not found the finality of saying, “It’s as good as it’s going to get,” nor do I think I ever will. I know many authors who feel that way about their published manuscripts. Writing is a craft that can always be improved upon. And to be a good writer, one must be a reader first.
    Joyce recently posted… Throwback ThursdayMy Profile

  • Shailaja V
    June 7, 2014

    It’s an interesting topic, to be sure. I believe that the more you affirm something, the more you believe in it. I am not a published ‘writer’, but I do write. So, I feel comfortable calling myself one. Do I compare my work to others’? Yes, I do. If I can learn and evolve, why not? Would I change my style drastically? No, I wouldn’t, because then I wouldn’t be true to myself.
    Shailaja V recently posted… Book Review- ‘The Dot’ by Peter ReynoldsMy Profile

  • Ana
    June 7, 2014

    I try not to compare because I know there will always be someone (a lot of people!) who can do things better than me. The thing is, I’m the only one who can “say” what is in my head. In that respect what I do is unique and can’t be compared. And it’s the same for every “artist”. I use the word “say” in my case as I’m a writer but it could be “see” for a painter or “hear” for a musician etc
    Ana recently posted… How To Get Your Bedroom Back From Your KidsMy Profile

  • Sojourner
    June 7, 2014

    Great food for thought. I refer to myself as a writer, but haven’t yet published the collection of short stories I’ve been working on for the past seven years. Yes, at times I feel like a fraud. It’s difficult not to. But what I’m really doing is comparing myself to others. Recently a writer friend of mine (also yet unpublished) told me that I can’t compare my beginning to other peoples middles. Basically, I’m beginning my career as a writer and it makes no sense to compare my journey to someone else’s, someone who may be at the apex of their career, enjoying the glamorous middle.

  • Kim June 7, 2014

    If you pretend long enough, you either fail or it becomes true.
    Kim Patterson

  • Cheryl Jones June 7, 2014

    I take photos, and I’ve painted in oils and acrylics and I’ve made quilts and knit but I don’t label myself as an artist, painter, photographer, etc. I deliberately don’t do that because I don’t feel that I “deserve” those titles. I have no problem labelling others with the title of artist (like you, Laurel) because I can look at their/your work with clear eyes and plainly see your/their talent. Silly, I guess, but that’s how I think so I can see the point of your post. 🙂

  • Beloo Mehra
    June 8, 2014

    These are some great questions. Very important, but not easy to answer. But I am happy you bring these up here for our reflection. We are all too human and sometimes get into the trap of comparing ourselves with others. Those are the times when we need to step back and look within what is the real purpose for why we do whatever it is we do – write, paint, whatever.
    I also think that the society is such that it forces us to give ourselves a label – writer, artist, whatever. But do I really, I mean really really, need to call myself anything? I am not so sure.
    Thanks Laurel for giving us some thought-provoking questions.
    Beloo Mehra recently posted… That Late Night ChatMy Profile

  • Cathy Graham
    June 8, 2014

    Oh yes, I know this feeling exactly! Glad to know I’m not alone. I especially get anxious about the writing thinking I have to have some sort of degree and a piece of paper to show I’m a legitimate writer, otherwise I’m just dabbling at it like some sort of hobby. I write and that makes me a writer, dammit!!! And perfection is overrated. If we wait for the day to be perfect, it will be a lonnnnnnnng wait!
    Cathy Graham recently posted… Advice to Novice WritersMy Profile

  • ElaineLK June 8, 2014

    Excellent post, Laurel. I think most of us who try to do creative things wrestle with these issues. I have been fortunate to have three small publications. After each one, I’ve thought, Now I’m really a writer. But that feeling doesn’t last long if I don’t keep the momentum going, which is what usually happens. And I definitely have been guilty of comparing myself with other writers. The really good ones make me feel diminished, and I think “I can never write like that.” But lately I’ve been able to talk myself out of those moods of wanting to be Faulkner or Byatt or Hilary Mantel. There is room in the world for all kinds of writers, as well as artists. and the really important thing is loving whatever art you do and working and practicing it to get better on your own terms. If you do something that someone else finds worthy of exposing to a wider audience, it’s a wonderful bonus, but it shouldn’t be the main reason we do it.

  • Susan - ofeverymoment
    June 11, 2014

    Hi Laurel,
    I really enjoyed your thoughts (and those of your readers) on this topic, and I have mentioned it (with a link) in my post that will be published tomorrow. Just wanted to let you know! Thanks for your thoughts on this!,
    Susan – ofeverymoment recently posted… Recipe: Quick / Easy Boneless-Chuck Country Style Beef RibsMy Profile

  • Luna June 11, 2014

    My answer when reading this was a resounding Yes! BUT, it is helpful to know that others feel that sense of anxiety, too. Maybe this is a primarily female issue? I was speaking to a female co-worker and while my writing is separate from my work, we both spoke of the constant feeling of –should I be here? Do I know enough to do this job?? We are both educated and more than experienced enough to do our jobs and do them well, yet this keeps coming up. I suppose it is confidence more than anything…

  • Roy A. Ackerman, PhD, EA
    September 14, 2016

    Perfect may be the enemy of good. But superior or extraordinary is what one must seek- it is the enemy of good, but doesn’t have a single choice.
    Roy A. Ackerman, PhD, EA recently posted… This Spy Event is NOT a SecretMy Profile


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