This post originally appeared in the Hollywood Journal.
One of the hardest things to do as an artist, in my case a film composer, is to be kind to yourself.
My dissatisfaction with my creative results has always been what I’ve used to propel myself to create technically and conceptually “better” music. Going from one project to another it can be a noble goal, but in the swirling muddy waters of the act of creation, it can actually be extremely inhibiting. I used to be my own drill sergeant, berating and exhorting myself, often thinking the harder I castigated myself, the better the results. In hindsight, all it did was increase my dissatisfaction with my work and raise my standards to the point where nothing I created was meeting it. Never mind that the director was satisfied!
Three and a half years ago, my son was born. As a new parent, I’ve been extremely focused on promoting his creativity and development. While interacting with him, it’s been startlingly obvious that gentleness, nurture, and encouragement allow his creativity to flourish. I started wondering… what made me think the direct opposite would work for my creativity?! When did I pick up the notion that talking to myself in a way I couldn’t conceive of talking to another human being would do anything positive for the flow of ideas?
If you haven’t been doing it up until now, being gentle with yourself is surprisingly harder than you’d think. It’s taken a lot of mental effort and self-awareness, but I’ve since re-established my relationship to my creativity to a now gentler and kinder one. Unsurprisingly, it has led to a much more enjoyable process of creation.
The next time you create, eavesdrop on your internal monologue and ask yourself, would I talk to this way to anyone else?