Creative Self Doubt

Day 349 Week 51 Q4  Thursday, December 15, 2022

It is difficult, if not impossible, to objectively evaluate and judge your own work. And as they told us at Juilliard in composition class, that is not your job. Your job is to create the best work you can. So doesn’t this set up an internet contradiction? I mean, how can you do your best work if you can not evaluate it objectively? Ah, who said objectivity was even operating when it comes to creativity?  There seems to be an assumption here that objectivity is even possible. And that would imply perhaps that the world is rational.

Sure there is a dilemma. We want to de-risk our existence by objectively evaluating and judging what we are doing. This is not going to happen unless you are willing to pursue quantity instead of quality.  Creativity, innovation and beauty are not quantitative; they are all qualitative. And so is, by the way, a life of meaning. It, too is not about quantity but about quality.  If you are a consumer, not a creator, perhaps you can get off this hook, for then more is better right? Would you rather have ten crappy works of art or one superior work of art?

More is not better! And creating is not about more. And meaning is not about more. Then what is the creative self-doubt about? Society tells us more is better. Our souls tell us no, better is better. Not more is better. So, where does the debut come in? Well, if you still are trying to answer, what is better?

What if you stop trying to answer that question and answer a different one? What makes you feel better? Ten Twinkies or one fine chocolate bar. Some of you may not know what Twinkies are, and you are not missing anything.  Think white bread versus sourdough or if you do not like sourdough, oaky whole wheat.

In any case, there is only measure I know of that works, and that is do I feel good. Do I feel better if everyone around me tells me they like what I am doing? Well, perhaps short term and perhaps when you are younger and less experienced and have not yet felt good about what you are doing. What you say, you are still there?

Then maybe you are creating in the wrong domain for you. Or maybe you do not feel good about anything? That is also a possibility, but hey, it is beyond the scope of reading this to fix. Do all creative people have some self-doubt? Perhaps a lot of it? Even when they are accomplished and famous? Some do, and some don’t but the only real measure I have repeatedly found to work for me is, do I like it? DO I like what I am doing? And there are people better than me who do not like what they are doing. And there are people worse than me who love what they are doing. 

So, I guess this is between you and yourself and the universe.  You are the only one you have to satisfy. What you say you need to get paid, and that requires you to satisfy other people. You are in the business of creativity for hire.  And then you can completely eliminate the self-doubt. If the customer pays, then there is no more doubt.

Nope. Not if you are a discounting creator.  If money is not your god, and if eternal kudos are not your god, then I guess you have to be your own god. And could you still have creative self-doubt? Sure you can. But it is a choice. If you are creating what makes you feel great, and if the rest of the world does not even know it exists, you still feel great.

If you are a musician, would you rather listen to your own stuff than the radio or the stream? I sure would. The stream that makes me feel the best is my own stream, and do I create self doubt? Not while I am in flow. Never. Ever. That probably makes me delusional but then again, compared to what? To an external more?

Nope, I would gladly sit down and play for myself than anything else, so I think I will stop writing and do just that.