In my line of work I often hear the following, or variations on it:

“I really want to be more creative but I lack confidence. I don’t think I’ll be any good. It stops me just getting started or even knowing where to begin.”

This is not unusual! You are in excellent company; all creatives {ie. all humans} feel this at times. It does not mean that for some reason ‘you’ are the one person in the universe who can’t be, shouldn’t be, or just aren’t creative or artistic.

I’m going to be tough love Tara for a minute and say that all of the above is a story, a very convincing story, usually with a lot of compelling and detailed subplots, but nevertheless just a story. What’s more it’s a story for which you can change the script and the outcome at any time.

I know this because even as someone who is frequently creative, I have plenty of excellent stories of my own, and I continually have to make efforts to rewrite them or drop them completely. AND it doesn’t always work at first and can be really hard. Which is not a reason not to do it!

Assuming that what that teacher said ~ or what your parents told you, or whatever it is that you’re allowing to hold you back ~ is the one and only truth about your situation is to abdicate all responsibility for your own life and what happens in it.

Aaaaand back to non confrontational, ‘soft love’ Tara.

It’s fair to say that at this point I have a sizeable chunk of creative confidence. That does NOT mean that I don’t get struck down by the ‘not good enough’ fairy, that I never compare and find myself coming up woefully short, that I don’t doubt my abilities and skills, or that I am never afraid of sharing something I’ve made.

All these things happen! But I don’t let them stop me from barging on ahead and Just Doing It because expressing myself creatively is so much more important than any of my excellent stories about why I can’t.

So here are my groundbreaking thoughts about creative confidence and how to have it, offered to you with much love and compassion, and only a mere hint of bossiness.

1. Just begin.

I KNOW that that feels like the hugest thing two small words could suggest, but remember, it’s only huge if you have a story about its hugeness. What if it was really very tiny, like picking up a pencil and doodling a flower? That is a beginning. Now colour it in. Bam. You’ve drawn something and it wasn’t huge. Go you!

Tip! Sign up for Artnotes and receive a free six part email course called Making Art Your Way, designed to help you lay a foundation for building the creative confidence that will help you move forward with your art, whatever it might be.

2. Get some support.

A friend in the same boat to share experiences and creative sessions with; a coach or mentor of some kind to help you focus and keep you accountable if that would help; an online or offline group for sharing and encouragement. Whatever seems least scary and feels like something you could do, even if it makes you nervous.

Tip! Instagram is amazing for building confidence through sharing and community; the artists and creatives there are incredibly warm and supportive and there really is no substitute I’ve found for that kind of creative encouragement. If you have a smart phone I highly recommend checking it out.

3. Tell a new story.

If you don’t feel able yet to drop all stories completely in one go {seriously, who does that?!}, what one thing could you begin to tell yourself that feels even vaguely believable about where you’re going now? It doesn’t have to be ‘I’m an artist’ if that feels beyond you at this point, it just has to feel believable to you.

How about ‘I am uncovering my creativity’, or ‘Today I am taking one step forward in my creative quest by looking at art books in the library/doodling on the back of an envelope/taking photos with my phone camera.’ It really doesn’t matter what it is, as long as it’s positive and expresses your intention to stop handing over all the power to those compelling stories.

Small steps are good. They also tend to create firmer, longer lasting foundations than large ones, I’ve found.

I’ve been looking for a suitable quote to make my point here, and have come up empty handed. And so I’m going to quote myself. {Which I rather think makes my point in itself, with no small degree of irony.}

Creative confidence means deciding to move forward regardless of what you believe or fear to be true.

Tara Leaver ;)

It does NOT mean you have to wait until you feel brave or ready, or have some kind of qualification. It means you took your own life into your perfectly capable hands and just decided to do it anyway.

What one step might you take today in the spirit of creative confidence? What is your main fear, and can you take a step with that fear alongside you as just a part of the process rather than your reason not to try? Do you have any words of wisdom for taking that step when it feels incredibly scary? Tell me in the comments! Make it your brave creative step for the day.

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