Marianne Musgrove
March 4th, 2013

Creativity versus Shame

Welcome to my new blog!

As a creative writer, I thought it only fitting to devote my first ever post to creativity. With that in mind, here’s a picture of me (fourth from the left) having a cup of tea in the sea.

Marianne at Surrealist tea party standing in the sea dressed in suit, bowler hate and tie with several other similarly dressed people.

“But I’m just not creative.”

For some, creativity comes easily, for others, not so much. In an effort to conquer his writer’s block, one famous author went into his study, gave his butler his clothes and told him not to return them until he’d written three chapters. I myself even tried hypnosis!

So why go to such lengths to overcome our blocks? The way I see it, we’re born without a map. Creating stuff is how we chart the country of ourselves.

Shape of a girl walking. Her body silhouette is a map.

Marianne: inner cartographer.

Shame: mortal enemy of creativity

Shame researcher, Brené Brown, argues that creativity only comes when we’re courageous enough to be vulnerable. Unfortunately, being vulnerable tends to prompt shame to rear its ugly head. Shame makes us:

  • numb our feelings (“It doesn’t matter if I get published. It’s not as if my stuff is that important.”)
  • hide (“I won’t show my photographs to anyone and then they can’t say they’re stupid or accuse me of being up myself.”)
  • attack (“I can’t believe those talentless fools got published when I didn’t!”).

I’ve done all of these – still do!

Combatting shame

  • The first step is to recognise a shame reaction for what it is: an attempt to protect yourself from rejection. It’s message of “Hide!” feels legitimate, but it’s not.
  • If you find yourself holding back until your creation is perfect, that’s shame up to its old tricks. Perfection is a myth.
  • Shame fears rejection so it puts the opinions of others front and centre. Keep an eye out for thoughts beginning “People will think …”

For further tips on shame resilience, see Brené Brown’s book, Daring Greatly.

Getting surreal

I recently had the opportunity to take part in a surrealist tea party. Local artist, Andrew Baines, invited members of the public to come down to the beach dressed in a black suit, bowler hat and tie. It looked like fun, but after my initial enthusiasm, I thought: people will think I’ve lost my mind! There it was: “People will think…” Luckily, I recognised my reaction and decided to take part anyway.

Marianne dressed in suit, bowler hat and tie holding a tea cup and saucer at a surrealist tea party at Henley Beach.

130 of us stood in the sea and drank tea while the artist took photos.

Surrealist Tea Party with wave

The outcome? Creativity: 1  Shame: 0. All in all, it was a very good day!

Thanks for stopping by. Should you feel so inclined, you’re most welcome to subscribe to my blog by clicking on the orange icon on the right hand side.



28 Responses to “Creativity versus Shame”

  1. Jin

    Hi Marianne, looks like fun!

  2. Great post. Inspiring.

  3. Great photo! What a terrific idea. Looks like you were all having fun!

  4. Elizabeth

    Very helpful. Brene Brown is a marvellous writer.

  5. Great Marianne – I’ll recommend it on the Create A Kids’ Book Facebook page! People will find it helpful I’m sure. It looks lovely too! Congratulations, Virginia

    • Marianne Musgrove

      Thanks, Virginia! I’ll add Create-a-Kids’-Book to the blog roll. Your advice in the early days pre-publication helped set me on this course 🙂

  6. The elusive shame-bug of creativity that stops an artist!
    Well you’ve squashed this bug, and have successfully given me some tips so I can go and squish mine – though I think this is going to be a continual process!
    Drinking tea in the sea, sounds like a poem in the making 🙂

  7. Lovely looking blog Marianne, and powerful start to confront the shame goblin and push him / her into his / her hole.

    The photo of you having tea at the kiosk is very “Annie Hall”.

  8. P.S. is there a way of getting your posts by email rather than as a news feed?

  9. Very creative article and tea party, Marianne. Rosanne

    • Marianne Musgrove

      Thanks, Rosanne. I still have the bowler hat. Perhaps I should wear it to eKidnas …

  10. Tiffany

    Hi Marianne,

    When I did a PhD I was lucky because I had a supervisor who didn’t really direct my research question from the start. He expected me to read around and formulate my own. The biggest lesson for me in doing this was to learn to survive and learn when I couldn’t see where I was headed. It felt like I couldn’t see past the end of my nose but to get through the PhD, I had to learn to work with that. I had to learn to persevere when I wasn’t in control of where I thought I was headed. I think it’s perhaps the best life lesson I’ve ever learned and it’s given me the confidence to cope in a whole bunch of different situations where I’m not always sure what the outcome will be.

    • Marianne Musgrove

      Great insight, Tiffany. Creativity flourishes when we don’t know where we’re heading but we embark on the journey anyway. That’s kinda how my current novel is working out – I’ve a vague notion of where it’s going but that’s about it!

  11. Alison Flett

    Great blog, Marianne. Some fascinating insights here. I could do with some shame-bug squishing!

  12. Neela

    Congrats on the blog… looks fantastic and great topic to start with. Next time I find myself wondering what “People will think” will try to put that shame bug to bed 🙂
    Look forward to more musings from the inpiring mind of Marianne Musgrove 🙂

  13. Great, appealing site and blog, Marianne. Well done!

  14. Barbara

    Lovely thoughts Marianne. To write authentically you really do put yourself out on a limb.

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