If you work in a creative field, you’ve likely experienced the exhausting lifecycle of motivation. At first, you’re pumped to flex your creative muscles. But motivation can be fickle. And as a project drags through rounds of revisions, it can grow stale and lifeless. Enter: self-doubt, the creativity-strangling monster that whispers, “This is trash.”
Bad news: self-doubt sucks. Good news: you’re not alone. It happens to all creative folks. And there are ways to get through it and come out on the other side creating even cooler stuff.
You gotta believe.
As cheese-laden montage-y as it sounds, confidence plays a huge role in creative success. With confidence comes a willingness to not only think outside the box but to completely redesign it (or rise above the blah blah, if you will).
Having genuine belief in yourself and your work (like, say, a full-length invisible movie) is crucial. Especially in advertising, where client buy-in and support is an absolute necessity. After all, if you don’t believe in your ideas, why would someone else?
Hone your self-evaluation skills.
Constructive criticism—empasis on “constructive”—is key. When your inner-critic raises its voice, you don’t have to listen right away—push it later into your creative process when you can get some valuable distance. And then adopt the same respectful tone you’d (hopefully) use when critiquing someone else’s work.
Be honest and evaluate the good and the bad through the lens of how well it meets your strategic objectives. With practice, you can turn self-doubt from a creative restraint into an invaluable asset.
Accept that you’re gonna suck sometimes, and that’s totally fine.
Push yourself, but don’t feel bad when you aren’t perfect. Ira Glass (of This American Life and the Cool Glasses Hall of Fame that exists in my head) has a great message for seekers of creative success, which Daniel Sax adapted into this beautiful short film.
Essentially, grit is the only thing separating good taste from great work, and the best way to bridge that gap is to put nose to grindstone. Often.
And if you’re anything like me, one day you’ll look back at some of your old projects/fledgling ideas/margin doodles and feel like gouging your eyes out (or running it through a paper shredder). But that just means you’ve grown.
Have a constructive weekend, everybody!
– Your “We believe in you!” friends at Brokaw