Creatives can put a lot of pressure on themselves to produce quality work. Whether it’s a hobby or a profession, if you’re working on something, letting it drag on can feel like a chore, and being satisfied with less than your best is not an option.
Instead of forcing something out though, give it room to breathe.
By breathing, I mean to let yourself work with what you have, and not judge or dismiss your ideas because they aren’t good enough. Yet.
Take for example a writer. A writer may start off with what appears to be an extremely poorly written manuscript. Instead of criticizing herself, she should instead take what she has, and work with it. What does she like about what she wrote? What does she hate? Why? Where did it go wrong? Was there a point that she made it something she wasn’t expecting?
These are all questions that can come to a writer’s mind instead of “This sucks!” Then, by taking the answers to questions and applying them to the work, it will begin to evolve into a greater piece of work. The answers lend themselves to becoming critical elements of an otherwise bland story.
I’ve gone back over my writing dozens of times, and each time I’ve found something that could be clearer or perhaps removed overall, just to help the story flow a little better. While I don’t consider myself a genius writer, I’ve definitely noticed an improvement in my skill to communicate effectively from writing more and listening to my inner critic closely for hints.
Another example might be an engineer working to invent a new piece of technology. If at first the piece fails to perform its task, what did he learn? Maybe he learned new methods to create something that he wasn’t aware of previously. Maybe he made connections with someone in the industry that gave him valuable insights and he can speak to them on a more regular basis now.
Creativity isn’t a linear process. There are plenty of curves and bends in the road, as well as off shoots, and even times when we need to back track. Creativity is more like a web, where interconnections may provide alternate paths, but at first it may seem like you’re going in the wrong direction.
By giving your creativity the space it needs, and yourself the permission to be less critical of your first work, you’d be surprised to find how much you can do with what you started with.