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How to Be Creative Without Fear of Criticism

These tips for being creative are for women in relationships. How do you be creative without fear of criticism or judgment from your husband, boyfriend, or significant other? I was inspired to write this article by a reader who is struggling to find her creative hobbies.

creative hobbiesReading books about art and creativity is one way I learned how to be more creative. Currently, I’m reading The Art of Mistakes: Unexpected Painting Techniques and the Practice of Creative Thinking by Melanie Rothschild. “What’s the worst that could happen [if you make mistakes in your art]?” she asks. “Let them laugh.”

Here’s part of my reader’s email: “I read your article on how to be creative (How to Blossom in Your Creativity). A lot of the elements of creativity you listed were my favorite hobbies, such as writing, poetry, drawing, dancing, and reading books about poetry. For the past five years I’ve been in a relationship – we’ve been married only two years and all my hobbies and interests have gone down the tubes. How do you bring back your old hobbies without being self-conscious that your husband will criticize you?”

What a great question! She added that she participates in his auto business and has learned how to fix cars. She’s clearly good at working with her hands and not afraid to get dirty, which is awesome if she wants to explore her creativity! I think all women who want to rediscover or find their creative hobbies should read How to Find Yourself After Getting Lost in a Relationship. And, here are my tips on how to be creative without fear of criticism…

How to Be Creative Without Fear of Criticism

These six tips for being creative are all about you, not your significant other. Why? Because you can’t change your husband, but you can change how you respond to your husband’s feedback or criticism. You can change you. You can become more creative and joyful, and you can recreate your life!

Remember that being creative is a process that slowly unfolds. In the second-last tip on how to be creative, I share the steps that led me to set up my very own artist’s loft and start painting. Being creative doesn’t happen overnight.

Tell your partner how you feel

“Hey honey, I really want to explore writing, art, poetry, knitting, or painting – but I’m worried about your response. I love you and care about what you think, and I feel vulnerable and a little scared when I think about pursuing my creative hobbies. Will you support me in this?”

How do you think your husband will respond if you tell him you’re learning how to be creative, and you don’t want to fear his response? Many men are incredibly protective. They may not understand why you want to have more creativity in your life, but if asked they might be more supportive than you think.

If you dream of writing as a creative hobby, read A Writer’s Quest – How to Write Creatively.

Get comfortable with being uncomfortable

I’m a self-taught flute player, just like I’m a self-taught artist. Even after two years of flute playing and ten years of marriage, I still deplore practicing my flute when my husband is home! Why? Because he can hear me.

creative hobbies for women

Laurie the Adventurous Artist

Every missed note and high-pitched screech makes me feel embarrassed and dumb. Half the time, I can’t even keep up with my “Beginner How to Play the Flute” CDs.

It’s hard to learn something new in front of someone you love, especially if you feel vulnerable. Or if he’s a critical guy. It’s really hard to learn how to be creative without fear, because creating anything – art, poetry, photography, a sweater – exposes us to all sorts of responses.

Be with people who support your creative hobbies

I used to say writers need to develop the skin of a rhino. I don’t believe that anymore. Now, I think it’s more valuable to connect with fellow artists, writers, knitters, photographers – whatever your creative hobby is.

You might not get validation, affirmation, or support at home. But you can find other women who are learning how to be creative, and you can join them without fear of criticism! And one day you may even learn how to turn your creative hobby into a small business. Wouldn’t that be something?

I believe connecting with other creative women in person is extremely valuable and inspiring. But, if you can’t find a casual group of artists in your community, then you might consider following a few artists’ blogs, Facebook pages, or Pinterest pages. Don’t follow professional artists, or you might feel too intimidated to learn how to be creative in your own right!

Give yourself time – because creativity is a process

I’ve wanted to be an artist for years. I couldn’t even say “I want to be an artist” because I thought there was no way in the world I could ever learn how to be creative enough to paint with oils and acrylics! About a year ago, I asked my husband to buy me a paint-by-numbers set. A few months later, I bought an artist’s easel at a thrift store for $15. I started to talk about my yearning to for creative hobbies.

Here’s how my creative process unfolded:

How to be Creative Without Fear of Criticism

How to be Creative Without Fear of Criticism

  • I started a scrapbook with my Little Sister (from the Big Sisters/Big Brothers organization)
  • My Little Sister and I went to free art workshops, and we created a variety different types of art projects as Christmas gifts.
  • I gave my creatively fearful, tentative, and indecisive Little Sister tips on how to be creative without fear of criticism – and they rubbed off on me
  • I asked for a paint-by-numbers set because I wanted to go beyond scrapbooking. Instead, he gave me a set of expensive oil paints, brushes, and canvasses. It took me seven months to open the package
  • Since I couldn’t find the time for my art, I started a group called Creative Women Expressing Art Together (CWEST). It’s a free group for women to bring their own creative hobbies to my home twice a month, and do art for a couple of hours
  • I listened to my fellow artists talk about knitting, painting, writing, doll making, and photography
  • I started painting.

This whole process took three years to unfold – not to mention the decades of dreaming of being an artist in my own loft in New York City!

Learning how to be creative without fear of criticism doesn’t happen overnight. It happens slowly, like a flower blossoming. You must start slowly, and you must never give up.

Buy yourself something that will help you pursue your creative hobbies and passions. Go to a thrift store (though I’ve found they’re better for cloths and textiles, not painting supplies). Or, read Creative Gifts for Artists – Inspired by Picasso and treat yourself to something creative on Amazon.

Have faith in your creative works – not because others approve, but because your creativity expresses who you are. 

Read books on how to be creative

how to be more creativeNo matter what your creative hobbies you’re pursuing, get The Artist’s Way Starter Kit by Julia Cameron. I’ve read all her books several times. She’s a writer, artist, and film director – and I’m sure she has other creative pursuits up her sleeve. Cameron is so encouraging of beginners; she’ll help free your spirit and learn how to be creative without fear of criticism.

If you’re into the psychology of creativity, read On Becoming an Artist: Reinventing Yourself Through Mindful Creativity by Ellen Langer. She describes how we undervalue ourselves and undermine our creativity. She’ll help you have faith in your creative works — not because someone else approves of them but because they’re a true expression of who you are. Plus, it’s fascinating to learn how Langer combined her job as a psychologist with her hobby as a painter.

Don’t take classes to learn how to be more creative

Some painting, knitting, photography, and writing classes are awesome. But, I’m holding off on taking oil painting classes for awhile. Here’s a perfect summary of why – it’s an email from a reader: “I think you’re doing the right thing by not taking painting classes,” says Brenda. “I took oil painting classes for three years. I learned a lot, but at the same time it kind of stifled my creativity.”

The most important tip on how to be creative without fear of criticism is to surround yourself with like-minded folk! You are NOT alone. Millions of women lose themselves in their relationships, children, work, home responsibilities, and community involvement – not to mention taking care of aging parents and their own health issues.

I welcome your thoughts on how to be creative without fear of criticism below. I can’t offer advice about relationships or marriage. If your partner isn’t supportive, read How to Cope With a Critical Husband.

May your creativity blossom! May you learn how to be creative in your art, your work, and your relationships. I pray for God’s peace and joy to fill you and your home, and for you to find the freedom you need to  pursue your creative hobbies.


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3 thoughts on “How to Be Creative Without Fear of Criticism”

  1. Laurie Pawlik-Kienlen

    Hi Barbara,

    I really appreciate your comments, thank you! That’s amazing that you’ve performed as a folk dancer and worked as an artist…not many people achieve that dream.

    Your blog looks really interesting; I look forward to reading more about your insights on horses and more!


  2. Barbara Breckenfeld

    Thank you for this compassionate and practical post walking us through your own process of owning your creativity. I believe that being creative is a core part of being human, and I hate how so much of our creativity gets squelched. I encourage creative expression in all forms!

    I was fortunate to have encouragement to create both at home and at school; I have worked as an artist and performed as a folk dancer. It has always been part of who I am. For some of us, this is something we cannot ignore or put aside (though I’ve tried!)

    Creating is one of the ways that I feel connected to everything. When someone says, that person “is so talented,” I feel so sad and separate. Talent is real, for sure, but most of what gets called talent is the result of regular disciplined practice and believing in the value of the work. Calling it ‘talent’ does two things that aren’t true. It discounts the years of hard work that brought someone to a point of mastery and recognition. And it makes creative accomplishment something outside the person speaking. It’s a disconnect between the speaker and her own creativity.

    So I appreciate you saying “give yourself time – creativity is a process.” We need to allow ourselves to be beginners and appreciate the glorious mess we make as we go.

    I’m going to go make a mess now :-)

  3. Laurie,

    This is a great article. You mentioned vulnerability quite a bit also. I tend to be hostile and cold. I show my emotions/feelings through actions, not necessarily words. Sometimes a person gets so used to being criticized and surrounded by cold and negative people, they learn to be quiet and never express feelings verbally. That’s why I always liked poetry, art, dancing, plays b/c I found it as an indirect way of expressing feelings. But then slowly my hobbies drifted as I got older. Partying and getting drunk was a hobby for a few years in my early 20’s. I guess everyone makes mistakes. I went to school for pharmacy technician, but failed the math class 3 times. I was almost done, I interned, but just needed the pharmaceutical calculations class. I just dropped out and worked odd jobs. Eventually I met my now husband and got into cars and home remodeling. I know how to do drywall as well! lol But sometimes, instead of looking at the diagram of a transmission control module, I would like to be walking around Lambeau Field (I’m from Wisconsin lol) or the Harley Davidson Museum or the zoo. I love animals as well. I have a macaw blue and gold named Snoopy! But my husband and I are just two different people. And I have to obviously learn how to be vulnerable and stop caring so much about others opinions. If a person doesn’t love who they are, how can they love another? Makes sense. Your article was very helpful. I cannot change my husband. But I can change myself. :)

    Thank you!