Being Creative Is Hard

Especially when your inner critic is sabotaging you from the inside. Drowning out the negative voices—it's easier than you think.

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In 2009, Danielle Krysa started a blog called The Jealous Curator, inspired by the inadequacy we feel when faced with something great done by someone else. Its tagline? "Damn. I wish I thought of that."

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Those negative thoughts can be a huge downer, convincing us that we're not good enough—but Krysa is trying to change that, one poisonous moment of self-doubt at a time. While out on tour promoting her first book, Creative Block, she discovered that people were full of stories they wanted to share with her.

"Damn. I wish I thought of that."

"Some were sad, some were hilarious, and all of them were inspiring," Krysa says. "I was having so many personal 'aha!' moments, and it just didn't seem fair that I was the only one experiencing them." So she packaged them all into a book to share with the rest of the world. The 10 chapters in her new book, Your Inner Critic Is a Big Jerk, are inspired by the themes she saw over and over again, and outline her 10 truths about what it means to be creative.

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We talked to Krysa about overcoming her inner critic, how to beat your own, and her favorite words of wisdom from Andy Warhol.

What has your inner critic said to you?

Writing this book was pretty hard! I heard a lot of "you're not a writer" during the process, but I tried my best to take my own advice. Very meta. Actually, the hardest thing I've had to get past was making art again. My inner critic was born during art school, and that mean, little voice convinced me not to make art for over a decade. I finally moved past it after I wrote Creative Block. I interviewed 50 working artists about how they handle creative blocks, criticism, and, of course, the dreaded inner critic.

"My inner critic will always be with me, I'm sure, but now he's not as rude."

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I realized that everyone hears that voice from time to time, but if you want to live a creative life, you have to get back into the studio every single day, no matter what that voice is saying. Sometimes the ideas come, sometimes they don't—but that doesn't mean you're a failure. It's simply part of the creative process. Embracing that made my inner critic take a seat in the corner. He'll always be with me, I'm sure, but now he's not as rude.

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What's the best advice you've ever been given?

Inner critics are bullies. Think about the things your inner critic says to you—would you ever say something so cruel to another human being? No! So why is it OK to say it to ourselves? It's not.

Your book is full of incredibly inspiring quotes—do you have a favorite one?

Can I say all of them? If I have to pick, I'd say this Andy Warhol one—I love that it can apply both to outside opinions and those of your inner critic:

"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

Who should read this book?

I hope this book will help anyone who's feeling alone realize that they're actually part of a huge community that totally gets it. I want people to have fun making art and learn how to tell their inner critic where to go.

Your Inner Critic Is a Big Jerk by Danielle Krysa, $17, is available at amazon.com. For more on Krysa, visit her blog thejealouscurator.com.

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