criticism.


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After my pattern, Tauriel, was published in the Winter 2014 issue of Knitty, I received a lot of traffic both to my blog and patterns on Ravelry. Unfortunately, with more visibility, not only the people who adore you, or are at least willing to keep quiet about not liking you, see your work. People who have something they think is important to say usually chime in. When that pattern was published, there were a few people whoย did feel like they had something to say. And those things were hurtful to me.

Of course, I am not opposed to constructive criticism. I try to welcome that type of criticism, because it makes me and my work better.

These, however, were simply negative things that people said. I don’t know what they were going through that day. I don’t know if they were trying to be mean or hurtful. I don’t know if they regretted their words later. It just stuck with me.

I think that besides the restrictions and fears that we have inside of ourselves, criticism is one of the worst stumbling blocks one can have when it comes to creativity. You’ve heard the story — the one about the child who was told by one of their teachers, “That drawing is terrible! You’ll never be an artist.” The child didn’t even try to do anything creative until he realized that the disparaging remarks his teacher had made simply were not true. The next time he picked up his brush, he was in his seventies.

Criticism isn’t excluded to another person telling you that you’re no good. It you’re the one telling yourself that you’re no good, creativity will flee. Your sense of worth with disappear. In order to create something of value, you must believe that you have value. The artist I interviewed earlier, Renee, said this: Your creativity, your work? It is not you. It is something that you (the person that has value) did. Your creativity is not your value.

I heard Marlee Grace of Have Company say that for creativity, the most important things you can do are show up, pay attention, be willing to fail, and to not be attached to the results. That is something that I think is so important to remember at all times; when we’re criticized, and when we’re being praised.

This is helpful for me to remember whenever I put something out there, be it a blog post, a pattern, whatever: After I put this out in the world, it isn’t mine anymore. It belongs to whoever sees it, is impacted in some way by it, or takes it and runs. And those people have complete permission to do whatever they want with it. (As long as they don’t violate copyright laws, of course. ๐Ÿ™‚ )

Whatever you do, do not give hurtful comments any room in your mind. You have complete permission to blatantly disregard them. Also, do not indulge in self-pity. Do not dwell on it. Remember that you are authentic, even if the other person makes you feel like a fraud. Most likely they are only projecting their own insecurities, their own failures onto you.

I really hope this helps you if you’re struggling with criticism. It is only debilitating if you let it be.

Also, speaking of my pattern, Tauriel, I’ve made a free PDF of the pattern, which you can download here:

PDF: Tauriel v_2

Tauriel socks // By Josiah Bain

 

Thanks for letting me ramble about creativity for the last few weeks. It has given me a chance to explore a subject I needed help with and helped me create a more static blogging schedule.

See you soon!

J

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20 thoughts on “criticism.

  1. This is such an important topic, thank you for addressing it. I think that many people forget there is an actual person reading their negative comments, and how hurtful it can be to be on the receiving end of them. I know most people who receive negative (not constructive) feedback just keep it to themselves, so most people don’t realize that this is a risk of putting yourself out there even in our ‘safe’ knitting community. Lovely sock design by the way!! ๐Ÿ™‚

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    1. I know! I think that because I thought our community was so safe and filled only with lovely people, I just wasn’t expecting it. Now, I still think it is safe and supportive, I just am not so naive. :p Thanks for commenting, Chrissy!

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  2. Your socks are awesome!! Congrats on publishing in Knitty. I have very mixed feelings on free patterns- I think first patterns should be free because this is where you are learning a lot about how to write a pattern, clarity, etc., but there are unfortunately far more knitters out there who will only knit free patterns and expect them to be as high of quality as an $8 pattern. And you will get more emails for support to customers on a free pattern than you ever will for a paid pattern because many people feel entitled to your time because you have written a pattern and shared it publicly. For Stockholm Scarf, my first pattern ever and unfortunately my most popular one, I’ve had to flat out tell people that I’m not re writing it to cater to their various personal pattern preferences (they want it charted, or they don’t want it charted, or they want to disregard the pattern written flat and knit it in the round and then complain that it gets stretched out…) the best you can do is try your best, learn what you can, and remember that no matter how tremendously awesome a pattern is, there will always be some people who don’t understand, who have their own issues, who relish complaining about anything they perceive as a flaw- which might very well be an attribute or selling feature to another. The knitters who love your stuff will find you.

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  3. Whatever negative comments some very bored person on the internet gives you, I hope you know that I think you’re fantastic. ๐Ÿ™‚ I’m not the only one who believes that, obviously. ;p

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  4. It’s a tough lesson, and one that we all need to keep in mind (“we” as in anyone who puts anything on the internet – be it a blog, articles, patterns, photos, tweets, etc.). The anonymity of internet comments makes it easy for Negative Nellies. Good for you for recognizing that, and for trying to lessen the impact on your spirit.

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  5. Great topic… As designers we always have to deal with that.
    Long time ago I watched a documental about Freddy mercury and the interviewer ask about one of song, a famous one (don’t remember what song was) and Freddy said to him: “why you asking me that?, that song was last year, I forgot it. I live in the next song”.For me that answer made me realize that as a creator, you can’t live in your last design, you must get over it and move forward. So, if the pattern is doing well is fine and if is not the case, make other one and keep going.

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  6. Think I’ll definitely try Tauriel, the sock not the film ‘lurv interest’.

    As for those Trolls who just have to say hurtful things – poor them. It might be they’re having a bad day and transferring their bad feelings onto you, but fancy being able only to say nasty things about others!

    I’m not sure about the old saying, “if you can’t say something nice then say nothing” for all the time, but when it comes to everyday use . . . Particularly online, which seems to bring out the worst in some people. Unfortunately.

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    1. Aw, thanks, Sharon! I’d love to see how they turn out for you! It is important, however, to be sure your gauge is correct not only for stockinette but for the cables, or else it will be way to small or large. Many people don’t seem to think that I listed two gauges in the pattern for a reason. :p

      Do you think it is something psychological about being a troll online vs. in real life? That maybe they feel protected because it isn’t face-to-face, and they will probably never know the impact it has on the recipient? Something interesting to think about, definitely. ๐Ÿ™‚

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