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 who 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. 🙂 )
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:
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!