You’re not as confident as you’d like to be in your creative life. So, how can you increase your creative confidence?
First off you need to begin with a growth mindset and accept that creative confidence is something that can be acquired.
Then you can start to build your skill-set, maximise your strengths and, ultimately, increase your confidence.
Today we’ll be exploring 7 techniques to do just that.
How to Build Your Creative Confidence
1. Trust the Process
a. Intentionally develop your process
Your process - a series of actions you can return to again and again - is crucial for building creative confidence.
While we rebel at the idea of placing constraints on our creative work, making art is inherently unstructured.
So instead of worrying about too much structure, it’s actually too little structure that we should be worried about.
Developing a process you can repeatedly return to, means you’ll work through your creative projects more methodically rather than flying by the seat of your pants.
This in turn will make you feel more confident and - guess what - more creative!
Having a proven approach to creative work helps us build confidence, giving us a method we can fallback on if we ever hit a creative block.”
c. Love your process
Having a process doesn’t mean you need to create a rigid set of rules for making your work that you never deviate from.
It’s your art, you make the rules.
Your process needs to have flexibility in it so you can explore new ideas.
Look for the intersections between your art-life and the rest of your life. This is the secret to finding your creative voice. It’s in this voice that your confidence lies.
It’s also a good idea to limit your digital diet so that you immerse yourself in your own vision rather than getting distracted by other peoples’.
The more you make your process truly yours, the more you will own and love it.
b. Document your process
The best way to build a process is to simply observe what you already do. Look for patterns for when you are the most productive and motivated.
By documenting your process, you’ll see what works best for you and you can start to build your daily creative practice around what you discover.
d. Make a checklist from your process
As you document your process you can begin to build checklists.
Looking back at the documentation of the process of an Artist’s Book I made recently helped me accurately predict how long it would take me to make the covers and prepare the pages for a similar piece.
I could work through the steps confident that I wouldn’t forget something or do things in the wrong order.
Your process might not be as complex as mine, you can still benefit from checklists because they give you immediate visual feedback of your progress. (Some digital checklist apps even tell you the percentage done.)
e. Rinse and repeat your process
Repeatedly going through your creative process allows you to recognise and map the ups and downs of the road
Confidence really does come from having faced the horrible moments over and over.
Eventually you learn not to freak out when you hit that dip in the middle of your project when you want to give up.
You know you’ve hit that particular pothole many times before, and you’ve come out the other side.
2. Hone your craft
This is essential. And very powerful - especially when combined with Trusting the Process.
The more you increase your skills, the better you’ll understand the suitability of the available alternatives within your process.
As a result, you’ll make more confident choices - discarding unpromising paths earlier, and getting to the best solution more quickly.
3. Interact with your past work
Use reviews and positive questioning exercises to maintain an ongoing dialogue with your muse.
This will help you cultivate continuity between past, present and future work and reinforce your unique process and style.
4. Wear a 'making' hat and a 'selling' hat
Mentally separate the process of making the work from showing or selling it: Two hats or boxes.
Don’t let the achievement - or lack of - commercial success affect how you feel about your art.
Once you’ve produced your work, then put your marketing hat on and go sell it. But don’t wear your marketing hat in the studio.
5. Embrace creative community
Surround yourself with a supportive community of other artists or creatives.
Get out and take part in the creative community in your area.
If there isn’t one - or you don’t fit in with it - start another! You’ll be amazed at the creative people that will come out of the woodwork when you put out a call.
Alternatively, there are infinite ways of connecting with other creatives online and, while it’s perhaps not as powerful as connecting in person, it definitely beats sitting in your workspace in not-so-splendid isolation.
6. Learn a creative skill outside your comfort zone
It doesn’t matter what you do, just make sure it’s something that stretches you.
If you usually draw, learn to make pots. If you’re a writer, learn to sing. Normally behind a camera lens? Get into sculpting.
This kind of creative cross-training puts us back in a beginner’s mindset and opens us to new possibilities within our usual process.
7. Build keystone habits
Keystone habits are habits that have a positive knock-on effect in multiple areas of your life.
A daily free-writing or a journalling practice is a great keystone habit for creatives. Use it to check in with yourself how your work is going, where you’re excited or uncomfortable, where you might need to change direction, and so on.
Yoga, Tai Chi and running are also really helpful habits: They clear your mind and reduce bodily stress, allowing your creative juices to flow.
So if you want to build your creative confidence, get stuck into this list! You’ll be amazed by how implementing just some of these techniques will start to transform your way of being in the world. And if you manage all 7, you’ll be flying!
If all this feels like too much and you’d like a bit of daily hand-holding, why not try out chat (text) coaching with me via Coach.me?
I'm Cherry Jeffs, mixed-media artist and creativity coach aka WildC for my refusal to be told or tamed...