As creative people, it can often feel a struggle to remain focused, inspired and on track, whether on a particular creative project, or in our lives in general.
We can gather support from those around us - friends, family, peers, mentors, coaches – and this in itself can of course be hugely valuable. But there’s another additional source of support and encouragement we can always call upon, and one that most of us find all too easy to overlook. That is from ourselves.
So when you’re next feeling particularly stuck or in need of guidance, by all means seek out friends for advice or just someone to listen to your doubts and fears. But as well as this, or when you feel there’s simply no-one around to talk to, try these techniques to take care of yourself:
. Write a fan letter to yourself as if you’re writing to your favourite author/ painter/ singer/ creative idol. Explain exactly what you particularly enjoy about the work, and why. Write about how the effects it has, the influence it’s had on your life, the things it’s inspired you to do.
As well as particular pieces of work, write also about the way your creative idol (ie you!) lives their life and, as someone who’s followed their life and techniques, how that’s motivated and encouraged your own creativity.
As a variation on this technique, to give you direction and encouragement when you’re embarking on a new creative project, write a similar fan letter from the future, as if this project is already complete and out in the world. Explain what you’ve gained from the work, how you’ve enjoyed it and how it’s affected your life.
. Gather a portfolio of evidence of your achievements. Get a few pages or files and list all the memories you have of the things you’ve done in your life that you’re proud of, however large or small.
They can be from any time in your life, ranging from “I’ve got up early every day this week to work on my new creative project” to “I’ve just shown my latest exhibition at the national gallery”. . .
You could also do this in different areas of your life. Maybe a section for creative work, another for relationships, another for family, another for career and so on. Again in each list all the achievements you’re proud of. Once you start this exercise you’ll be surprised at how quickly you can gather a substantial portfolio of evidence.
Keep it topped up and return to it to add more whenever you can, or to remind yourself of all the things you’ve done that you can take heart from.
. Write a letter to yourself as if you were your best friend. Be as encouraging, supportive and gentle as you would be with a best friend, except address it to yourself.
Focus on your strengths and talents and the positive things you’ve achieved in your life. Talk about the difficulties you’ve overcome and how you’ve made use of your creativity to overcome them.
Write also about the influence and support you’ve been as a friend, and how encouraging you’ve been in times of difficulty and unhappiness. Put it in an envelope and post it to yourself, then when you receive it, read it as if it’s come from someone else.
© Copyright 2006 Dan Goodwin.
Creativity Coach Dan Goodwin is the author of “Create Create!”, a FREE twice monthly ezine for people who want simple and powerful articles, tips and exercises to help them unleash their creative talents. Sign up right now and get your FREE “Explode Your Creativity!” Action Workbook, at http://www.CoachCreative.com .