Is Comparison Killing Your Creativity?

So you’ve thought about learning how to draw or paint or crochet or dance. What stops you? Probably the same thing that stops most of us.

Comparison.

You look at someone’s finished work, say to yourself – “I’d love to do something like that…” Then you sit down to do a bit of sketching and realize “Wow, this is really hard. My drawing, painting, or whatever doesn’t look anything like it should. I guess I’m just not talented enough, smart enough, creative enough to do this.” So you give up.

Or maybe you do start to draw or paint, or collage or scrapbook and you are making some progress. You start to like what you are putting together. Maybe you’ve even started to show it to other people. Then you see a magazine or an online forum or some other depiction of your kind of art and notice that your stuff looks ugly or amateurish or stupid or cartoonish by comparison. There’s that word again – comparison.

Why do we do this to ourselves? Why can’t we give ourselves the time and space we need to create the things we want to create?

There’s this idea that we SHOULD be good right now, this minute. That if others are better it invalidates our own efforts. This is simply not true, unless your only goal in making art is to be better than everyone else.

For most of us, art is NOT about being better

It’s about expressing what’s inside of us. It’s sharing our unique perspective with the world. Or at least those closest to us. Taken this way there is no need for comparison. If you are enjoying the journey, there is no reason to pay attention to what others are doing along the way.

“But I don’t want to kid myself,” you say. “What if I really am no good at all? Wouldn’t this all be a waste of time?”

The answer depends on what you consider a waste of your time. If you watch TV, sit in traffic, stand in line or do a thousand other activities, any of these could be considered a waste of time.

I, for one, don’t understand why anyone would stand in line to get the latest iPad at the Apple store when I can easily wait a few weeks until thousands more will be for sale. But there are those who LOVE getting the latest and greatest technology the moment it’s available. For them, standing in line is its own reward, not the waste of time it would be for me.

The point is, if creating art provides you with something valuable – space to consider your own thoughts, moments of quiet to yourself or the thrill of mixing new colors together, you haven’t wasted a second. You’ve simply taken time to indulge your senses. That carries its own rewards.

So vow today to STOP comparing your art to others. There will always be someone out there who is better than you are. Don’t let that be an excuse to stop expressing yourself. Don’t let it stop you from learning and growing on your journey.

You are exactly where you need to be. Keep going…

One Comment

  1. Right on!

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