Week 3, Day 4 of The Artist's Way
Today, let's learn when and where to seek out the “right” type of criticism.
We don't make art with its eventual criticism foremost in mind, but criticism that asks a question like “how could you?” Can make an artist feel like a shamed child. A well-meaning friend who constructively criticizes a beginning writer may very well end that writer.
Let me be clear. Not all criticism is shaming.
Does this mean no criticism? No. It means learning where and when to seek out the right criticism. As artists, we must learn when criticism is appropriate and from whom.
As artists, we cannot control all the criticism we will receive.
We cannot make our professional critics more healthy or more loving or more constructive than they are. But we can learn to comfort our artist child over unfair criticism; we can learn to find friends with whom we can safely vent our pain. We can learn not to deny or stuff our feelings when we have been artistically savaged.
Art requires safe hatchery.
Ideally, artists find this first in their family, then in their school, and finally in a community of friends and supporters. This idea is seldom a reality. As artists, we must learn to create our own safe environment. We must learn to protect our artist child from shame. We do this by diffusing our childhood shaming, getting them on the page, and sharing them with a trusted, non-shaming other.
By telling our shameful secrets about our art and telling them through our art, we release ourselves and others from darkness. This release is not always welcomed.
We must learn that when our art reveals a secret of the human soul, those watching it may try to shame us for making it.
We must be very firm with ourselves and not pick up the first doubt.
We simply cannot allow the first negative thinking to take hold. Taking in the first doubt is like picking up the first drink for an alcoholic. Once in our system, the doubt will take on another doubt — and another. Doubting thoughts can be stopped, but it takes vigilance to do it. “Maybe that critic was right . . . . ” And, boom, we must go into action: “You are a good artist, a brave artist, you are doing well. It is good that you did the work . . . .”
(The Artist's Way, 2016, p. 69 – 71)
I am a brave artist. I am doing well. It is good that I did the work.
Habits: Take a look at your habits.
Many of them may interfere with your self-nurturing and cause shame. Some of the oddest things are self-destructive. Do you have a habit of watching TV you don't like? Do you have a habit of hanging out with a really boring friend and just killing time (there's an expression!)? Some rotten habits are obvious and overt (drinking too much, smoking, eating instead of writing).
List three obvious rotten habits. What's the payoff in continuing them?
Some rotten habits are more subtle (no time to exercise, little time to pray, always helping others, not getting any self-nurturing, hanging out with people who belittle your dreams). List three of your subtle foes. What use do these forms of sabotage have? Be specific.
“I have made my world and it is a much better world than I ever saw outside.”
– Louise Nevelson
What is one small healthy habit you can replace with one of your rotten habits today?
We'd love to hear in the comments!