Creator Medicine

I have a Slack channel with my friends Bec and Karen where we get to be honest about our creative work, or lack of. It’s something every creative needs, I think: a safe haven to celebrate or commiserate.

Recently, Karen posted a thread saying “I’m not expecting you to watch or listen to these, but I thought I would post them all here so I could find them again whenever I’m feeling down about creative stuff, and I thought they might be helpful to you too.” She titled the thread ‘Creator Medicine’.

Gradually, we all added the things we kept coming back to. The collection of links we put together I found useful , so I thought I’d collate them here, in case you found them helpful too.

I’ve grouped them under the following questions, if you like, the diagnoses that these medicines might work on.

Feeling like your creativity might not be big enough, or you’re not cut out for this work?

TED talk by Elizabeth Gilbert: Your elusive creative genius (19 min)

If you haven’t heard her yet, Liz Gilbert talking about creativity is an excellent thing. She has a way of speaking as someone who has been there on the creative journey, who has been successful, and hasn’t let success destroy her creativity, like it has to many others.

Here she questions the myth of the ‘tortured artist’ and asks whether our emotional relationship to creativity could be reframed in a better light. If you like this, follow it up with her book on creativity, Big Magic.

Feeling aimless in your creative life, or dealing with impostor syndrome?

Neil Gaiman: Make good art (20 min)

This commencement speech from 2012 by one of our favourite authors, Neil Gaiman became a classic for good reason. He is wise about making a career in the creative arts and his advice here is bigger than just for writers—“When things get tought, this is what you should do: Make good art”.

Feeling like creativity isn’t worth the struggle, or wondering how to make more art when you hate everything you’ve made so far?

Elizabeth Gilbert talking with Brene Brown on essential creativity

This episode from Gilbert’s Magic Lessons podcast resonated so strongly with me when I first heard it, that I immediately listened to it again. Brene Brown is a researcher in courage, shame and empathy (you may have seen her TED talk on vulnerability).

Together, the two of them sound and resound off another about the shame that some people carry around their creativity, what meaning creativity has in this life, and how to keep going when you feel like everything you’ve made is terrible.

Feeling like life is too busy and you simply don’t have time to be creative?

Mark McGuiness on How to Find Time for Creative Work

Mark McGuiness is a creative coach and he’s good at getting to the nitty-gritty of what it will actually mean for you to take action on your creative steps or around your creative blocks. His advice here is practical and sound.

Feeling like what you’ve made is terrible and that people are going to laugh at you if you try and put it out in the world?

Wait but Why on Taming the Mammoth: Why You Should Stop Caring What Other People Think

This is a blog post that I think of just about every day. I’m sure you’ve probably seen Wait But Why’s style of long blog posts with simple and hilarious illustrations.

Here, it gets real about what’s going on with our brains when we freak out over what other people will think about us or our art (hint: it has to do with a mammoth) and how to work past that to find your voice. If you actually internalise this lesson, it will help you in countless ways, including the way you make art.

Found something here helpful or have a suggestion, I would love to hear from you.