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Music blaring in my ears, I glare at my painting as I work it to death. How dare it not be perfect!
Going back to my post two weeks ago, I've really gotten caught on the idea of judgment, especially creatively. As the idea hit me harder than I ever expected, I started to notice myself judging others, not deeming anything as bad, but instantly getting into the head space of critiquing. Not only others though, probably even more aggressively, I was critiquing myself.
Spending time with other creatives, going to school, or doing workshops, there is an incessant focus on critique. Maybe that is critique endorsing what is going well, or giving suggestions for what could be bettered. Either way, it is critique.
Critique can be wonderful. It can allow you to know what is working, and what you can work on. But, it can also be debilitating. I argue it is harder to learn how to balance it, accept it, and know when not to care about it than learning the craft itself.
Yeah, yeah, there are infinite things you can learn in the arts, but they do come gradually. They take a lot of time, yes, but can be approached in bite sized pieces. Critique... it can come like a tidal wave, especially when being a raw beginner.
As someone who has been facing trauma, it has resulted in a serious self-critique. I've had to question my actions, behaviours, habits, reactions, emotional state, and just general existence. It has left me a heaping ball of self-doubt, moping about how that line is accidentally too thick.
In regards to my creative output and development, it has left me nit-picking every stoke, every word, every expression, because I've been in a state of critique. And sadly, that rubs off onto me critiquing other people and things as well: a hyper-fixation on critique and bettering.
Growing up, my older siblings and my mother were all very creative, and all had their crafts they had put so much work into learning. It meant they would leave me constant "suggestions" and "tips." Because I had to try and be part of a craft each of them took on, that meant quite the pile of "helpful criticism." In many ways, it has allowed me to learn parts of crafts way faster, but it has also left me even more critical and obsessive about the skill level of my creations. "If they see it, they need to see I listened and learned!" *Whispers a quick prayer they might actually have no criticism for this one*
Critique is important, but there hits a point you need to just create. Set aside what you can learn, how you can better your skills, and just create. Whether that is drawing, writing, singing... or whatever it is. Let yourself create for the sake of creating. Yeah, you might get a bundle of those comments, "I love this but..." or "Amazing, but..." And sure, you can listen, but try to not let it cripple you. I know, easier said than done.
There is a time to learn more and develop, but there is a time for just doing. How will you ever make your first comic if after every page you have to redo it because you learned a way to make it better? How will you ever finish a novel if you keep restarting because you had a better idea?
As the holidays are fast approaching for many or us, or maybe already started, I hope it can give you time to step away from critique and self development for just a little bit.
As my mother has said to me many times, "it's time to give less f#*@s."
Thanks for reading,