I received this book for free from LibraryThing Early Reviewers in exchange for an honest review. This does not affect my opinion of the book or the content of my review.Your Inner Critic Is a Big Jerk by Danielle Krysa
Published by Chronicle Books on October 11th 2016
Genres: Self-Help, Creativity, Art, Study & Teaching, Business Aspects
Format: Print ARC
Source: LibraryThing Early Reviewers
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A succinct guide to owning your creativity and overcoming negative thoughts. The ten chapters focus on a variety of common creative hurdles: finding inspiration, conquering self-doubt, ending the excuses, handling jealousy, dealing with critics, beginning again after failure, building a support system, and beating creative block. It’s filled with tips, anecdotes from professionals, exercises to spark your creativity, inspiring quotes, and whimsical illustrations.
“Don’t think about making art, just get it done. Let everyone else decide if it’s good or bad, whether they love it or hate it. While they are deciding, make even more art.” – Andy Warhol
A few points are reiterated throughout the book: (1) Everyone is creative and anyone can be an artist. (2) Don’t be afraid to label yourself as an artist. (3) All artists have creative struggles, even accomplished artists that we admire. Much of the advice relates to collage art and painting, but Danielle Krysa interviews people from a variety of fields, including acting and writing. Artists in any specialty will be able to relate to the stories within and mold the advice to their own experience. My two creative pursuits (graphic design and quilting) couldn’t be more different in practice, but the mind game is 100% the same. One of my favorite chapters was “Blank Paper Can Be Blinding.” Cutting into a whole piece of fabric or staring at a blank screen can be paralyzing. The endless possibilities are overwhelming! Krysa includes ten ideas for relieving the pressure and conquering a blank page.
My biggest creative roadblock is usually getting started, so the recommendations for artistic warm-ups were especially helpful. Krysa encourages you to form daily habits, like a photo-a-day project. A daily project makes creation part of your everyday life, so that you’re always present enough to see the inspiration all around you. Even if these exercises have nothing to do with your primary goal, it might be just what you need to jump-start your creativity. Sometimes it’s tough to get inspired to work on your big project. That’s not an excuse to do nothing! Krysa suggests procrastinating with purpose by doing some creative housekeeping. For me, that might be cutting fabric for a quilt or learning a new Photoshop technique. These are tasks that have helped me overcome creative block in the past, but I haven’t considered making them part of my routine.
“Developing a thick skin is not about crushing that part of you that is sensitive and open to the world—that’s the part that makes you need to create. But what defines that “thick skin” and makes you a professional is your ability to keep putting yourself out there in spite of the inevitable rejection, embarrassment, and moments of feeling out-of-place.” – Autumn Reeser
Krysa has a healthy attitude towards criticism:“Turn criticism into creative fuel.” Criticism isn’t always helpful. It can be cruel or simply a matter of opinion. There are tips for not taking that type of criticism to heart. However, sometimes we can get so close to our art that we can lose all objectivity. Constructive criticism can help take a project to the next level or direct you towards a better path. It may take a bit of translation to read behind the lines and find the helpful advice, but it’s a worthwhile exercise. There’s also advice for confronting the worst critic–yourself. This book forced me to rethink my bad habit of pointing out the flaws in my projects. Krysa is right; it really does become like a “protective shield against criticism.” Being able to critique your own work is an important part of the process, but there’s no reason to point out your findings to everyone!
Think of this process as a cycle. When you finish one thing successfully, it doesn’t mean that you’re done, and it definitely doesn’t mean that everything from here on out will be easy.
Stop pressuring yourself to create a masterpiece and just create! I’ve heard many of the tips before, but it’s helpful to be reminded. I wouldn’t read it from cover-to-cover again, but it’s structured perfectly for revisiting. I can flip to the relevant section for a quick kick in the right direction. An encouraging voice goes a long way to getting be back on track when I’m feeling overwhelmed or dejected. Your Inner Critic is a Jerk: And Other Truths About Being Creative would be a thoughtful gift for a beginning artist or someone who is on the cusp of something great. It’s a quick read–I read it in two hours while waiting for jury duty to start–but it’s filled with useful information that inspired me to go make something. For more tips on making the most of your creative life, you may enjoy Manage Your Day-to-Day: Build Your Routine, Find Your Focus, and Sharpen Your Creative Mind.