Say that you had high hopes for the painting, novel, tapestry, craft project, or home business that you threw yourself into—and it didn’t turn out as well as you’d hoped. Far from it! The only word that comes to mind is “disaster.” What can you do to deal with the angst welling up in you?
This week I’ll present four tips for handling “creative disasters” and next week I’ll present four more. These will help!
1. Mind your language
Is it really necessary to call it a “disaster”? How does it serve you to use such a harsh word to describe something you created with genuine love and real sweat? How do words like disaster, failure, mess or mistake help you? You are in charge of the language you use and employing the most self-disparaging language available to you can’t be a good idea!
2. Instantly forgive yourself
All right, something unfortunate happened (you got sidetracked, busy, or you lost your momentum altogether). You can pile a ton of guilt and an extra thousand pounds of regret on your back because of this unfortunate occurrence or you can forgive yourself right now, without a moment’s hesitation, before the weight of your guilt and regret drop you to your knees. Self-forgiveness is not the same as not owning your part in what you’ve wrought—rather, it is simple kindness and the only way to guarantee second chances.
3. Engage in self-support
Do you deserve the good chocolate or the deep massage only as a reward for some success? Isn’t it just as sensible to treat yourself in soothing, self-supportive ways when something is making you feel miserable—and has the potential to linger on as a permanent source of unhappiness? If you haven’t learned how to genuinely support yourself, this is an excellent opportunity to figure out how!
4. Take a break and reappraise
Maybe it wasn’t a disaster at all!—or maybe it was only a limited disaster. Take the weekend off and then look at your painting again. Reread your novel. Be with your tapestry in a refreshed frame of mind. See if your business really has collapsed—or only fainted. Bravely return to the scene of the disaster and see if it really was a disaster. Very often it wasn’t!
Next week, four more tips …
And in the meantime, what do YOU do when you encounter a creative obstacle?
Eric Maisel, Ph.D., is the author of 30 books, among them "Coaching the Artist Within" and "The Van Gogh Blues," and is widely regarded as America’s foremost creativity coach. His most recent book is Brainstorm: Harnessing the Power of Productive Obsessions. He is a featured contributor to the HuffingtonPost, ArtBistro, and Art Calendar magazine. Visit Dr. Maisel at EricMaisel.com.