The battle for self-belief

Working in the creative industries inevitably involves rejection and doubt. But those are also the elements that can lead to greatness, writes Richard Holman

If you’re a creative person, perhaps someone who makes a living from their imagination, there’s a good chance you were first inspired to pick up a pen, a camera, a paintbrush by looking at some of the best work in your chosen medium. You encountered the greats, you were moved by their masterpieces, and you decided to have a go yourself. It’s how most of us get started.

But there’s an awkward problem with this path to creative expression: against the best work in your genre, your own efforts can come up short. Before long you may find yourself beside a pile of screwed-up paper or a ripped-up canvas, your head in your hands, cursing the day you ever had the gall to ­believe you could actually do this.

Alongside having the tools and the space and the inspiration to make work, it’s commonly held that we need another essential ingredient: self-­belief. Without faith in ourselves, how on earth are we to navigate the travails entailed in bringing an idea into being?

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