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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?

I would love your feedback…
please share your thoughts.


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.

{ 26 comments… add one }
  • Neil June 3, 2013

    I don’t think I feel much envy about the talent of others. There’s not much you can do about that other than learn from others and nurture your own talent. I do feel insecure and pissed at myself for my indecision, anxiety, and lack of stability that thwarts me. I am envious of the skills of others to rise above this and pursue what they want out of life. This bothers me more than their creativity. Because there is something you can do about it.
    Neil recently posted… The Five Day Man Cold: The Final ChapterMy Profile

    • Laurel Regan
      June 4, 2013

      I would like to have your attitude when it comes to comparisons. You’re right – there’s nothing to be gained by envying the talent of others!
      Laurel Regan recently posted… ComfortMy Profile

  • siouxZQ June 3, 2013

    Absolutely … I think expecting perfection and having grave doubts applies to most creative people. I do know I am creative but also know my limitations and unfortunately, tend to define myself and my work by them. However, I also believe that the more you put into your “art”, the better it gets and the more you can allow yourself to believe.
    But to compare your work to another’s … yup, just gotta agree with Mr. Clemens. Yours will always fall short if you do that.

  • Corinne Rodrigues
    June 3, 2013

    I’m learning to enjoy saying that I’m a writer, Dawn. While I know I have miles to go before I’m really good, I don’t want to start comparing myself to anyone. I’ve got my own unique voice and I’m going to ‘sing’ loud and clear – if you don’t like it change the channel! 😉
    Corinne Rodrigues recently posted… KarmaMy Profile

  • Amy Morgan June 3, 2013

    I don’t always feel quite “legit” when I call myself a writer as I don’t support myself at it. And that perfection line hits right on the bulls eye – one of my husband’s favorite sayings. I don’t compare myself to other writers but I do feel some amount of envy at the apparent ease they write with (when they explain it that way) or the REALLY prolific ones. Sad but honest…
    Amy Morgan recently posted… Route 66 baby ~ THE OVERVIEW (A blog series of our two week adventure!)My Profile

  • Lou Lou Loves June 3, 2013

    I don’t feel like a creative fraud at all, but I never claim to be perfect or abtain perfection either, all my high expectations of myself sometimes neally kills me!
    Lou Lou Loves recently posted… The Super NannyMy Profile

  • lou Lou Loves June 3, 2013

    You see, I’m even creative with my spelling and just make up words randomly.
    lou Lou Loves recently posted… The Super NannyMy Profile

  • Kelly Louise
    June 3, 2013

    Oh good Lord, yes!
    When I couldn’t get into Squaw Valleys Writers Conference I couldn’t decide if I’d committed grammar suicide, my writing was sub-par or my plot sucked. One snotty nose, two hankies, and twenty four hours later I signed up for another conference with a small in depth workshop and critique.

  • Winnie June 3, 2013

    Great question Dawn! As a crafter, it is easy to compare yourself (or your work) to others. I really try hard not to do this, as I like to think we all contribute something uniquely our own. I wish I had some of the skills others possess, but I really like what I do. As a blogger, I DO feel less of a “writer” as I am not one. I blog to share my crafting so for me I concentrate on the cards and only write in my everyday language. I am not writing or will ever write a novel for instance.

    • Laurel Regan
      June 4, 2013

      One of my Facebook friends said this:

      Simone Weil was my inspiration in this respect “The work of art you do not make, no one else will ever make.” When you realise that you’re the only one who can do your thing, you realise you have no competition.

      I thought that was very appropriate!
      Laurel Regan recently posted… ComfortMy Profile

  • Ann June 3, 2013

    I like that quote. I think it is so true. I think I have to look work that inspires me when I am feeling confident. It is best for me to do something else unrelated when I am not so confident so I avoid that pitfall. Did you mention you are doing The Artist’s Way? I must say doing that was like an emotional roller coaster for me!

    • Laurel Regan
      June 4, 2013

      Yes, I just started The Artist’s Way this week, and it is bringing out all sorts of good stuff!
      Laurel Regan recently posted… ComfortMy Profile

  • I have just started to spit out that I write when someome asks me what I do. This post is timely; a daughter working on her Masters Degree feels inadequate. Her mentor said,”I still feel like a fraud and I have a Ph.D. I am certain somone will find out that I know next to nothing in my field.”

  • Kim Tracy Prince June 9, 2013

    I know this is not going to be helpful but I read the comics this morning and your post immediate made me think of this morning’s dilbert. Check it out at dilbert dot come (your comments won’t let me leave the URL).

    That aside, I have been in both places – feeling like a fraud, and unable to move forward with something because it’s not perfect. I feel you.
    Kim Tracy Prince recently posted… Art, Genius, and Suffering: Elizabeth Gilbert’s TED TalkMy Profile

  • Ingrid June 12, 2013

    Oh. I love what you’ve captured here… I don’t have suggestions as I still struggle with this daily. Strangely enough, the most creative period of my life was in the darkest cave of depression. I just didn’t care what other people were doing or thought… since I needed to express myself to survive. I am still amazed by what I produced in that time period. (And also by the level of fragility and vulnerability I allowed myself to express at that time.)

  • Alma Pacheco June 12, 2013

    Any time I feel a hint of “oh man I wish I could of thought of that ” or ” that is something I want to make” … I get to it and create my own version or try to make it my own. If I do “copy” I credit the source because I would want the same thing for me. It can be frustrating when there is a lot out there and you are going through a creative dry spell for sure.
    Alma Pacheco recently posted… Starry Night – creative writing challenge for kidsMy Profile

    • Laurel Regan
      June 13, 2013

      I love that idea! Instead of wasting time on envy, try it yourself and see where you can take the idea. I will definitely put that one into practice – thank you. 🙂
      Laurel Regan recently posted… Questions on self-imageMy Profile


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