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Monday, January 6, 2014

Muzzling the Know-it-All

Today is the day! Got out of bed, made a slow carb breakfast and mopped the kitchen floor. I'm convinced that productivity is all about getting some momentum going and keeping it going. After two months of eating anything and everything I wanted, it was nice to get back to something healthy that will fuel my body the right way.

In my last blog post I mentioned that I was going to sign up for an online class and I did, and I love it. After some deliberation, I chose the Draw Your Awesome Life workshop by Joanne Sharpe. It's fifteen lessons for $38 and her style and mine are very similar so it seemed a good fit. I went to Asel and spent $20 and I was ready to roll! I've done three pages so far and even though I'm not in love with any of them, I like something about each and more importantly I learned something from each lesson. 

I have a condition I call closet perfectionism. I have pretty low expectations about my housekeeping and my appearance but there are certain areas that I zoom in on and at times I can get so critical that I no longer enjoy something that should be fun. One of the symptoms of closet perfectionism is the delusion that I am supposed to be good at things without trying, learning, or practicing. To that end, the ugly little know-it-all in my brain can sometimes get her red pen out and scribble all over things I've made. In this class we do pencil drawings that we then cover with permanent ink and then add a watercolor layer. For one of my drawings, I used a pen that said it was permanent, but when I added the watercolor, it ran a little an muddied the colors. The results weren't bad. You could almost look at it and think it was intended but the know-it-all knows it wasn't and she's been trying to get me to tear that page out and start over. I'm leaving it in my notebook because it is a lesson, and because the only way to shut up the know-it-all is to stop playing by her rules. The joy is in the process not the product. 

If you happen to have a case of closet perfectionism, here are my suggestions on how to muzzle the know-it-all in your head:
1. Remind yourself that you are playing. Singing, painting, writing--creative pursuits of any kind, are supposed to be fun. 
2. Practice isn't supposed to be perfect. Practice is a process to improvement. Progress not perfection is the goal.
3. Buy affordable supplies to learn with. One of the ways my know-it-all beats me up is to criticize how much money I have spent compared to the product I create. When I buy a leather bound journal and an expensive fountain pen (hypothetically of course) I expect myself to write a journal worthy of those materials. The first time I misspell something or have to cross out a word, the know-it-all assures me that it is ruined. When I switched to gel pens and composition notebooks, I found I was more likely to use the notebooks and not worry if there was a phone number or a shopping list in the midst of my creative writing exercises. 
4. Don't start tearing out pages. If you want to try again, try again on another page. Document the process. When the know-it-all convinces me that I have to hide my mistakes I am playing right into her hand. Mistakes are part of life. 
5. Set process related goals. I will draw something every day. I will write 7 pages a week. I will learn a new song every two weeks. If I set a goal based on the product, everything that falls short feels like a failure. If I set goals based on process, the product will improve on its own. 
6. Fight the know-it-all by exposing the lies to the light. One of the best practices I've established is to let something sit for awhile before analyzing it. A little time and distance will remove some of the emotional attachment and allow me to look at, listen to or read things in a more productive manner. We should look at our work with a critical eye provided the motive is to improve but there is a difference between an honest critique and bullying. Part of the process is to learn the difference.

I'm off to get stuff done! Peace, love and creativity!

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