Thursday, August 22, 2013

Defeating The Anti-Muse

"Angel Of Imperfection" Art by Victoria Lynn Hall
"Angel Of Imperfection" Art Greeting Card by Victoria Lynn Hall

I complain a lot about how annoying my Muse can be but the truth is, I wouldn't work for her if I didn't think she was ultimately a force for good and magical things in my life. The problem is that working for her requires me to battle with my own doubts, fears and insecurities on a regular basis. Often, these things manifest as my perfectionist tendencies, a side of myself that I have come to think of as The Anti-Muse.

The Anti-Muse can be tricky to outwit because she often disguises herself as a rational and responsible voice in my head. She may even start off with a seemingly innocent and practical suggestion such as, “You should clean your studio before you start painting.” 

"What's wrong with that?" you ask. 

Well, nothing, until hours (or sometimes even days) have passed and I haven't finished or didn't even start to clean my studio because she's convinced me that it will never be clean enough or organized enough or stylish enough so why even bother?

Then, as I am searching the internet for storage cabinets and shelving systems I don't really need, feeling hopeless and frazzled, it suddenly hits me:

I've been foiled again by The Anti-Muse!

Fortunately, once I recognize this, she becomes a much less threatening foe. In fact, she becomes a guide of sorts as I know that doing the opposite of what she wants is probably what's best for me. So instead of telling myself I have to clean my studio before I paint, I tell myself I have to paint before I can clean my studio. Instead of believing her when she says nothing I paint will ever be good enough, I tell myself that anything I paint will be good enough (especially when compared to nothing).

I may have to battle with The Anti-Muse like this for awhile but eventually my Muse will step in and take over and things will get a lot easier. I will remember that my studio doesn't have to be perfect and neither do I. I will find myself free to do the best that I can do, which is almost always a little better than I thought I could.

And before I know it, I am standing in a (mostly) clean studio, ready to begin another painting and saying, “Take that, Anti-Muse!”.


  1. Well-stated! I call myself a recovering perfectionist, so your post certainly resonates. May you continue to keep your anti-muse in check, so your creativity can burst out!

  2. I like the way you think about this, VLH! As a recovering serious person (all just variations on theme, eh, Lisa H.?), I often get waylaid by the anti-muse when starting on musical projects. Tonight, after doing some rather muse-enticing work on 2 new songs, it convinced me that if I could just get far enough ahead on social media and blogging, that I'd have so much more freedom/time/etc. for the creative pursuits. Phew. Yeuck. It's bogus. If I'm inspired, I need to go for it.
    Thanks for the kick in the you-know-what. :)

    See you around...

    1. Thanks, Stan. I'm a recovering serious person, as well. :) Glad to see another anti-muse outwitted. Happy creating!

  3. Very enjoyable. That darn anti-muse is a horrible influence, I have to drown her voice out with loud Tom Pettty lyrics so that my muse can dance into action. Go, Victoria!

    1. Yes! The anti-muse is no match for Tom Petty lyrics. Go Kellea!