Overcoming Creative Doubt
Last week I was able to attend a workshop with Danielle Krysa, aka The Jealous Curator. Danielle is not just a curator of endless inspiring artworks, but also the author of “Creative Block” and “Your Inner Critic is a Big Jerk.” Her tagline is a phrase we find ourselves repeating daily - “Damn. I wish I thought of that.”
Though Danielle talks about creative doubt from the perspective of being an artist, I couldn’t help but take her insights and think about it in terms of the work that Lindsay and I do - marketing, graphic design, photography, social media, and just about anything else under the sun that helps our clients’ products get out in to the world and in to your bellies.
When you’re balancing multiple clients with different identities and different voices in a competitive marketplace it can be hard to find those extra unique and creative tactics that you can do to make them stand out from the crowd without having a mini panic attack. Here comes the creative doubt! We all want only the best for our clients and our business, plus having a personal badge of “yeah, I did that” is always a nice boost. The pressure we put on ourselves to replicate that glossy white sheen that makes Instagrammers look like they live in a minimalist beach house heaven that is suspended in perfect daylight is enough to make you want to pack up shop some days.
Why are we so tough on ourselves? This is supposed to be our specialty, damnit! It’s an unspoken truth that even the best in our field have a bit of insecurity before rolling out projects big and small to clients.
So, we’d thought we’d put together a few steps we rely on to help overcome times of creative doubt.
A big insecurity for most marketers and creatives is sharing work that you aren’t feeling at 100% with or that isn’t flushed out in detail. We’re lucky enough to have clients that we can do open brainstorming with. They may have excellent poker faces for some of the ideas we might run past them in the creative process, but we’ve reached a point in our client/contractor relationship where we can be vulnerable and they know we will make it work. You’d be surprised to find that about 80% of the time they actually prefer that silly or back-up idea you were afraid to pitch to them in the first place! It’s important to find a “safe space” where you feel vulnerable enough to share solutions or ideas that you think might be a good fit or even ones that are a bit outside of the box.
Get Yourself a Cheerleader Who Can Also Dish Out Real Talk
Where Lindsay and I are lucky is we have one another. Having a case of self doubt? There’s a second opinion just a text, email or computer screen flip away. It’s important to have a second opinion and a bit of encouragement for any project. Someone who is comfortable giving constructive feedback and someone who is knowledgeable in the field that you are working in. This is not a task for your momma! Getting a “I think you’re being too hard on yourself” message from Lindsay or a “I think you’re almost there, what if…” can help re-energize a project and get me back on track.
This one’s a slippery slope. Endless hours on Pinterest can leave you in a cold stress sweat. No doubt that it’s important to stay in tune with what people are doing in your field, but it’s important to not start the process of comparing yourself to add to your frustration. Clients that have thousands to spend on ad campaigns are a far stretch from your smaller scale client with a tight turnaround wanting to promote their weekend sample fair on Facebook.
How can you find inspiration online without beating yourself up? Appropriate what works! Maybe they have a pattern they follow in their posting, a treatment they use for hashtags or the edgy filter you would have never imagined using. Turn the frustration into your motivation.
Our biggest tip would be to step away from the computer! A good nap, cardio session or time in the kitchen always seems to get the creative juices flowing.
I’m all about diving straight into the fine details of a project. Lindsay’s all about planning where the drinks are going to be after a successful launch before we even start the project. Thankfully between the two of us we have the magic spot in between where we can get loose and then work from big ideas to smaller details. Throw all your silly ideas on the table and give yourself time to play before you even have the chance to have any doubt settle in.
We love this Brain Dump exercise!
We also love this example for how a good ol’ fashion mind map can help solve a month’s worth of blogging ideas in just a few minutes.
Remember, this isn’t your first project and it won’t be your last! The best part of this process is seeing yourself grow. If you don’t have those semi-embarrassing projects along the way to look back at to see how far you’ve come then where’s the fun?