The Power Of Doubt
How do you ignite dormant creativity?
You have to start somewhere—draw, write, dance, play, sing, doodle.
Looking for a way to kick start my own creativity--knowing my artist self had long since hidden behind the door--I decided to start small. Literally 1-2” drawings drafted on a stack of colorful notecards with random scenes—some real, some imagined, some embellished, all quirky. Nothing serious, or was it?
I had just finished The Net & The Butterfly by Judah Pollack and Olivia Fox Cabane, which focuses on breakthroughs and creativity, how to unleash them and how to manage and counter the fear, doubt and roadblocks surrounding them.
This book must have ripened my subconscious because before I knew it, during one of my morning walks, I had one those breakthroughs. The kind that gets you excited, anxious to start. The kind that ignites. I finished my walk and burst through the front door ready to create. Instagram would be my vehicle for sharing my recent daily drawings with the idea to inspire others to create complimentary images and words.
But the second I sat down in my chair, things began to unravel. I watched myself become a living example of the book‘s research and findings. My mind began its predictable digression into doubt and negativity. It started slowly:
- “Why bother? Other artists have certainly done this already.
- “Too silly and goofy.’
- “I should have drawn that better.”
- "My skills are rusty--not as good."
I centered myself.
Wait. This IS a great idea and these creations are meant to be Fun, Quirky, Playful.
Step 1. Breathe.
Step 2. Intercept my negativity.
Step 3. Move forward…anyhow.
I moved the process forward by setting up a new Instagram account, but the @instastory @doodlegram @instadoodle, and many other “perfect“ @‘s I had thought of were taken.
- “WTF. I knew this was not going to work.”
- "That’s a stupid name and so is that one.”
- “There are no good names left!"
Step 4. Repeat Steps 1-3.
I doodled and colored two pictures quickly as if proving my mental chatter and self-doubt wrong. Pigeon feet? Mixer and mortar? Hilarious.
But, as I taped them to the office door collection the doubt resurfaced.
- “I don’t know...it's all been done."
- "What if I can't think of something to draw one day?"
- "I will just be 'another' wanna be”
Step 5. Repeat steps 1-4.
Green, pink, yellow, blue notecards with little drawings all over the door—I loved them in their symmetry and stories. My confidence re-emerged. My artist self no longer hiding in the corner. Proud, I posted my first Instagram later that day.
- “Don’t go there, PL”, I said to myself.
I was determined not to solicit on FB in order to avoid a “look at me“ following. I wanted to see if the doodles could attract strangers, organically, by word of mouth and newness rather than getting support from people “just because.
Step 6. Repeat steps 1-4.
“Fear is an unavoidable part of the breakthrough process” state the authors of The Net and the Butterfly, regardless of the type of breakthrough you may have. For ‘intentional breakthroughs’, (problems you have been wrestling with), the fear and doubt you experience is, in fact, “the fear of not reaching that breakthrough”; thus, paralyzing you to even continue--apprehensive about wasting time, money, effort, and resources should you fail.
In ‘unintentional’ breakthroughs (those occurring spontaneously, like @doodle2write) fear and doubt prevent you “from implementing your breakthrough, thus rendering it useless”. In other words, you give up before trying.
My current experience was highlighting this process perfectly. Watching it unfold was both fascinating and annoying. Part of quieting my inner critic is the multi-faceted approach as outlined in Steps 1-3…repeatedly…facing the fear and doing it anyway, and proving the opposite of what the doubt is telling me.
I looked at the evidence: the door is beautiful. My artwork is now everywhere in the house. I am smart, funny, quirky, creative, and I have great ideas—why would my doodles reflect anything else? That is the point, right? Have fun, tell a story, make people smile.
Yes. Yes it is!