The Practice of Creativity

Inner Ninja Skills for Creative Folk: Foraying with the Flip Video Camera

Posted on: April 7, 2011

We have to be continually jumping off cliffs and developing our wings on the way down.—Kurt Vonnegut

As a creative person, you have to be willing to try new things. To do this, we often risk feeling out of one’s league, unprepared, foolish, silly and weird. Even hints of these feelings can sometimes get the best of us, immobilizing us. Over time and with gentle practice however, creative people can become emotional ninjas navigating around these feelings and, of course, the press agent for inadequacy—the inner critic. I’ve been practicing my inner ninja skills for the last several weeks.

Recently, I bought a Flip Ultra HD video camera with the intention of making short videos. I have a new co-authored book that’s just been published and have a desire to make short video clips with myself and the co-author chatting about the book. Everyone said making short videos was going to be easy. Indeed a look on YouTube confirms that even ten year-olds nowadays can make videos and post them.

Even though I am professionally paid to tone my clients’ creative muscles and encourage thoughtful risk-taking, I usually shy away from anything that is remotely ‘techie’. So while I was nervous about taking the videos, the thought of editing them using the included software sent me into hyperventilating spasms. But, I proceeded….

I had the pleasure of attending the Chatham Creative Economy Summit a few weeks ago (see previous post), and imposed on friends and acquaintances by sticking the video camera in their faces asking to film them. Although I’m not an introvert, by walking up to people and asking them to say a few words, I definitely felt my underarms moisten heavily (and then worried about how much ‘fear sweat’ I was releasing into the atmosphere). As I’ve found with most things though, people are generous, kind and supportive when you say, “I’m doing this for the first time. Will you help me?” I discovered I absolutely loved capturing people’s insights as the summit unfolded.

So, while taking the videos was fun and relatively easy, it was working with the software that almost did me in (my fears were confirmed)! I started by uploading the software at 11:45 at night. Well, after looking at some of my videos, I was quickly reminded why filmmaking is a high art. Still, I tried not to let my inner critic (who won’t get an Oscar nomination in the category ‘Helpful Support for Trying Something New’), get the best of me. I breathed and told myself that the real goal here is not mastery and perfection out of the gate, but fun and learning. I began arranging the clips and decided that I definitely wanted to do some editing.

It actually would take another two weeks for me to figure out how to upload the edited video to YouTube, requiring multiple browser upgrades, online chats with customer service and at least one sleepless night.

It’s now on YouTube and posted to Facebook. As I write this, however, I discover that I have not posted the video correctly to Facebook—I stop and take care of that. My inner critic shouts about how absolutely ridiculous I am for not being able to post the video to Facebook perfectly and how this will make me look bad in everyone’s eyes. It shrieks that I have wasted too much time with this ‘video thing’ and condemns my lack of tech savvy.

I know it’s really just trying to protect the ego part of me—that’s one of the functions of an inner critic. It’s OK, I say back to it. Feeling foolish for a few minutes (or days), doesn’t outweigh the absolute joy of taking baby steps toward creative accomplishment. And, I say to it, if people really want to make judgments about me because of a Facebook posting error, then doesn’t that say more about their inner lives, than mine? I doubt that they do, because the inner critic tends to lie and exaggerate—A LOT. Mastery and perfection are the inner critic’s values, but not mine. I know that learning and being “bad” (or just inexperienced), at something the first time psychically feeds us as creatively just as much as when we present something to the world that’s polished.

The inner critic, temporarily outmaneuvered, has skulked off somewhere deep into my psychic underworld. As I watch my video again, I revel in my non-mastery and prepare to take even more videos.

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1 Response to "Inner Ninja Skills for Creative Folk: Foraying with the Flip Video Camera"

Michele -1. Inner Critic-0.
Go Michele!

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Michele Tracy Berger

Michele Tracy Berger

Author, Academic, Creativity Expert I'm an award winning writer.

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