My Creative Week 40: The Power of Creative Praise

This week, in our Creative Flow Practice Group, we’ve been exploring The Power of Creative Praise. You can join us for online flow practice (Inspiration Meditation and F-R-E-E-Writing) here.

My Creative Week. Accomplishments: Week 40, Q3, 2019

How was your creative week, week 40 of 2019? You’ll find my creative accomplishments for the week below. Share your week’s accomplishments, setbacks and side-tours in our Facebook group, under the three hats of creative maker, manager and marketer).

Here’s what I achieved in my author business, wearing my three work hats this week.

  • MAKER: More chapters of Creative Self-Publishing were laid down.
  • MANAGER: My accountant is not going to love me just yet. Got as far as taking the accounts out of their folder and they are sitting looking at me from across the study. Taking this one into next week.
  • MARKETER: I picked the right week to begin to focus on Amazon ads, as they have just made the facility available in the UK and Germany now.

What about you, how was your creative week? What did you produce, process or promote in your creative business?

In our Go Creative! in Business group, each Monday we outline our creative intentions to each other. And then we follow up on a Saturday with what we’ve actually accomplished during the week. What’s unique about our group is that our report is given under the three hats a creative entrepreneur must wear: that of Maker (who produces), Manager (who processes) and  Marketer (who promotes).

Join us?

Week 40 Flow Practice Theme: The Power of Creative Praise

Psychology has a lot to say about praise in the development of children, less when it comes to adults. Yet the right kind of praise is vital to the creative process.

Praise and creativity are intimately connected. They both rely on perception, the ability to see beyond the surface, to pierce more deeply, make connections and see wholeness.

Yet very often we’re hard on ourselves and what we’re making; we’re not doing enough, it’s not good enough. That way leads to resistance and block.

Contingent Praise

Creative praise is mindful, linked to specifics and not contingent.

Alfie Kohn, the American philanthropist and author, has long highlighted the potential problems with praise.  In his article, 5 Reasons to Stop Saying ‘Good Job! Kohn argues that praise manipulates children and that adults often use praise as a form of sugar-coated control to get children to comply with what we want.

Saying “good job” when the child cleans up the art supplies is not for the child’s benefit, but for ours. We use the verbal reward to make the child want to clean up again the next time. “The reason praise can work in the short run is that young children are hungry for our approval,” he says. “But we have a responsibility not to exploit that dependence for our own convenience.”

His second objection is that unthinking praise creates “praise junkies”. Children who come to rely on adult judgments rather than trusting their own opinions. The child learns to only take pleasure when approval is received.

Such praise can have the opposite desire to what we want. “Does praise motivate kids? Kohn asks. “Sure. It motivates kids to get praise. Alas, that’s often at the expense of commitment to whatever they were doing that prompted the praise.”

Contingent praise reduces achievement, he argues and urging a child to “keep up the good work” creates a pressurized environment that damages their own inherent creative process.

Here are some examples of contingent versus creative praise:

    1. Contingent Praise: “That’s a good line.” Creative Praise: “That line links to the earlier reference and helps prepare for the final chapters.”
    2. Contingent Praise: “I love the purple in this illustration.” Creative Praise: “That purple really pops against the yellow. Is that the effect I’m looking for?”
    3. Contingent Praise: “I got a great review! I’m a genius!” Creative Praise: “What can I learn from this review about what worked well?”

As so often with creative work, it comes down to doing what feels good.

We look for what’s good, we applaud our own efforts, and we don’t link our sense of self, or sense of self-worth, to how well our work is going.

Just as it’s important for children to know that they are loved, unconditionally, that our love and approval is not based on them getting great report cards or doing perfect paintings or cleaning up their room, as creatives we don’t withhold approval or self-love from ourselves when we’re struggling, resistant or making mistakes.

Self-love, and self-care, must be unconditional if creative praise is to do its work.

Creative Praise: The Deepening Stage of the Creative Process

Many of us learned how to do our creative work in contingent-praise environments. One practical way to observe how we handle creative self-praise is to observe how we manage the deepening stage of the creative process.

There is a seven stage process whenever we create anything. After drafting people usually jump straight into editing, fixing and correcting but there is another stage, in-between, called “deepening”

In this stage, we notice and give specific creative praise to what works well in the draft.

That doesn’t mean we’re ignoring that it needs fixing, corrective attention and energy but acknowledging that first, it needs a different kind of attention, a different kind of energy, to perceive and highlight precisely what does work, what feels good and right, and why.

That act of creative praise greatly strengthens our work. And strengthens us, as creatives.

Do You Need Some Creative Praise?

So the invitation this week is to think about creative praise, where you might need it, how you might give it to yourself and your work. And maybe, also, to others.

And how you prove your own self-care and self-esteem, and care and esteem for others, regardless of how your work is going.

Join us for daily flow practice here.

If you’ve been motivated, moved or inspired by my writing or any of my work, please consider becoming a patron.

Become a Patron!

If you already do support, then a deep bow.

Thank you. Sonas mór leat. Namaste.