I hope you enjoy reading Irene's interesting and informative piece.
It's a fascinating topic that I'm sure many of us identify with.
Creative Shyness and How to Overcome it.
Creative Shyness: What is it?
Shyness with a small s: you love being creative but put it off; you don’t make time for yourself; you’re always too busy; dissatisfied, you draft and redraft endlessly; or don’t finish work; when you do, you avoid showing it to others; feedback is painful and once you’ve received it you hate implementing it; if you submit work and it’s rejected, you give up: a story of avoidance, procrastination, perfectionism, and resignation.
Shyness with a capital S: you won’t admit that you are creative. You might be a high-powered academic, a business woman/man, or an enabler (teacher, literary agent, fiction editor, supportive spouse of someone creative). Your creativity may be more powerful than that of those you support. But you pretend to everyone, yourself included, that you are uncreative.
Mine is the small ‘s’ shyness. I’ve known that I’m creative, from age five. But I’ve spent years hiding it. I still do! Thankfully, just by writing my blog ‘Creativity and Us’ (https:
//creativityandus. wordpress. com ) I started to ‘come out’ creatively, becoming less interested in hiding and more willing to share my expertise and fiction.
Why do we do this to ourselves? Psychotherapeutic writings (‘Transformative Learning ’ by Celia Hunt 2013, ‘The Mind’ Tershakovec 2007 and further back, ‘Art and Artist’ by Otto Rank, 1932) will explain that we need to challenge our guiding beliefs and step out of the box. Difficulties stem from parental expectations that go back to childhood; perfectionism; and what therapists call ‘loss of contact with the core self’. But if we love being creative though never finish or share our work, we need to challenge our self-defeating conditioning.
The French have a compliment for someone is inherently attractive: ‘Elle est bien dans sa peau’. My French is dodgy, but I’ve always loved that: ‘peau’= ‘skin’ so this literally means ‘she’s well in her skin, comfortable with who she is, confident, at ease with herself; no angst, discomfort or dissatisfaction; a person in contact with the core self: body, mind, spirit all in one place. How good is that!
I think that creative shyness is the psychic equivalent of being the opposite: insecure, uncomfortable with who we are and what we have to give to the world. So we shy away from our creativity. If we are writers, we get blocked. If we are not, we can’t see a starting point. We over- edit. When we finish something and finally send it off, a rejection feels like a bereavement.
How do you fight back? For starters, you can commit to doing a minimum of ten minutes automatic writing.
Starting with just ten minutes per week, the advice is to set this slot aside as ‘me’ time. You use it to respond to a specific question in writing. Find a spot or go to a café. Listen to music if it helps you focus. For ten minutes, tell yourself that you are not writing for anyone else and give yourself permission to say anything you want to.
If you feel like writing ‘this is just a load of old rubbish and I wish I could eat a hamburger instead’ then put that down. But keep writing, examining why you wrote something and what you meant by it. Slowly, you get into the deeper self, that magic area where you re-acquaint yourself with yourself. This is both challenging and artistically therapeutic.
The purpose of such writing is to create space for the psyche to integrate with the mind and body. Poor psyche! Our world is so fast, so full of sound and fury! When does the psyche have a chance to peep out of its little shell and really be You? When can this integration between body, mind and psyche happen, so you, too, can feel creatively ‘bien dans sa peau’?
It takes willingness, devotion, a regular practice and faith that you can find that authentic voice, deep within, and be happy with your work.
My blog gives you a chance to overcome Creative Shyness in small steps. If you would like to try it, visit at least once a week. Read the static pages. Start with post 1 and work through it. Use it like a once-a-week workbook. If possible, establish a support group. It’s more fun that way.
If you prefer to buy a book with a therapeutic approach to writing aiming to help you overcome creative blockages, I reccommend ‘Writing the Mind Alive’ by Linda Metcalf (an English prof. who discovered a great automatic writing technique).
For some, writing in order to integrate mind body and psyche might be frustrating and difficult. For others it can make them feel like impostors – that’s ok, just fake it and keep going anyway. Sometimes it may be downright scary; it can, and does tend to upset one’s psychic applecart. You may cry or laugh. Sometimes you’ll feel like you’re fighting both Medusa and the Minotaur with a wooden spoon. But be brave and persist. Good things will happen.
And remember: how many agony aunts does it take to change a light bulb? Only one; but the lightbulb must want to change.
I. Rosenfeld is an author and writing tutor living in London. Her Creativity and Us blog can be found at https:
//creativityandus. wordpress. com . Her new adventure novel for children is Geo Says No and more information can be found at www.geosaysno.com