The arrival of a creation

On Friday, I received the first copy of the first edition of my book, The Skin of Self-compassion. So exciting. I tore open the package, exclaimed with happiness, opened the book – and saw the first need of revision. My heart sank.

I called the Engineer, my partner and asked if I could stop by his office to show something.

When I handed him the book, he opened it and I saw his eyes fasten on the same spot that mine had gotten caught up on. His brows drew together, his gaze intensified and he opened his mouth to speak.

Before he could say anything, I blurted out: “It’s a baby!”

He glanced at me, his eyes softening. Saying nothing, he held out his arms, so I could receive the hug I hadn’t realized I was longing for.

The different levels of feedback in creation

The longing in our hearts for our creations to be seen and responded to is strong. A heartfelt, kind response is the foundation of the work I do as a creativity coach and art teacher. When you need feedback that honors your creativity, it is important to identify what kind of a response you are looking for.

Basically, there are three levels of feedback that are essential to creation.

  1. Ooohing and aaahing over the “baby”.
  2. Asking clarifying questions and giving supportive suggestions.
  3. Testing.

The Ooohing and aaaing over the “baby” is a type of feedback that is appropriate early in a creative process. When you have just gotten a new idea, or created a first draft of something, your project can still feel very tender and fragile. Depending on your personality, some ideas that get too harsh of an response at this stage, may wither away completely. Protection, celebration of the new potential and nourishment is what is needed to grow your creation into a mature project.

Feedback on level two is designed to bring your creation out from your imagination and into contact with the world. For instance, if you are an artist who works with sketches, this might be the stage where you ask for feedback from your peers, to understand how others respond to your idea and what you can do to clarify your vision. At this stage, the optimal response to your work is still nourishing and supportive, yet the focus is on reaching your audience.

When you are nearing any kind of launch, an exhibition, or releasing a new product, you need to test it. This is the level of feedback, where all mistakes are dug out into the open and all problems are called to the surface to be solved. By this time, hopefully, your creation is mature and eager for more clarity. The feedback, that at some other time might have felt destructive, now feels helpful, because you want to reach your audience and you want your creation to connect to the ones who are yearning for it.

How do you know which type of feedback you need?

This is where the rubber hits the road, isn’t it? In my story above, when I unwrapped the book and held it in my hands, I thought I was ready for a level two feedback and that was my initial response, flicking through the pages. It wasn’t until I saw the book under my partners’ gaze, that I realized the book was a tiny baby, just born out of the printing press. That’s where I was able to sputter out the word “Baby!” and ask for the kind of feedback I yearned for.

Centering in your heart to identify what your design needs

Think about a creation you are working on right now.

How does it feel, in your heart?

Now, in your heart, ask your creation what it would need to grow?

  •  Is there a yearning for celebration?
  •  Does it need a thoughtful response, clarifying questions and nurturing attention from someone else than you?
  •  Is this the time for rigorous testing, debugging and attention to detail?

You can also as your heart who would be a good person to give this sort of feedback to you and how to ask them for it.

Asking for feedback is asking to be seen

Receiving a response about what you have created can be a beautiful, healing experience. When you spend some time with your heart, before asking for feedback and articulate what you need to the other person, you make it easier for them to respond appropriately. At the same time, you take steps toward a way of communicating that helps all ideas thrive on the trust that they are welcome.

Is your heart yearning for kindness? Do you feel tired and in need of gentleness?

I invite you to join me at my art show at Uudenmaankatu 7, in Helsinki Finland. You are invited to the opening on Friday 29th of September, at 6-8 pm. The show opens officially on Saturday 30.9.-26.10.2017 at Art Salon Piirto, to immerse yourself in a refuge of kindness.

On Wednesday the 4th of October, it’s my 41st birthday and Gallery Wednesday. That day you can enjoy the paintings and also take part in a creative writing class or rest your brain in a midfulness session. More about that on Monday.

You can also follow the preparations and the art show virtually at http://instagram.com/mariemikkonen or in the Facebook event  where I post videos and progress pictures of the paintings.