Creativity: the Two Questions

Self criticism is the enemy of creativity. When we have an idea, our inner voice tells us it’s rubbish before the thought is even half formed. We’re so scared of creating something rubbish, that we don’t create anything at all.

I think this is one reason why adult colouring is so popular. It allows people to be creative, without worrying whether what they’re doing is any good.

When I was 16, I went on a creative writing course. The tutor shared Lynda Barry’s cartoon, The Two Questions. I’d never been one for reading cartoons, but then again I’d never seen one as thought provoking as this.

The Two Questions is about a little girl who loves drawing. As she grows up, the activity she once found freeing becomes a battle. She is plagued by two demons – the questions ‘is this good?’ and ‘does this suck?’. The two questions seem to take over, and she finds it impossible to create with them hanging over her.

This really struck a chord with me, and I’ve always remembered the cartoon. Since then, I’ve tried not to let the Two Questions stop me from doing things I enjoy.

There are lots of reasons why we shouldn’t worry whether something is ‘good’ during the creative process. For one, being creative should be fun, and it doesn’t always matter if there’s no useable end product. And how can we ever hope to create anything good, if we censor ourselves as we go along?

I’m not sure whether the Two Questions is in one of Lynda Barry’s books, but someone has uploaded a PDF of the cartoon here. I hope it helps you as much as it has helped me over the years.

What are your thoughts on creativity? Have you ever been plagued by those pesky Two Questions?

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8 thoughts on “Creativity: the Two Questions

  1. Lauren Victoria says:

    This post was really interesting! It’s not always the best when we have those inner demons telling us an idea sucks or will this even be good enough, but I think if you look past that, you can great such an amazing idea if you just give it a go 🙂 even if it doesn’t work out, at least you tried and that’s the main thing xx

    Lauren |

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Michelle Inman (@_rainflower) says:

    This completely resonates with me. In creative work and other ventures (e.g. my freelance), I always start to doubt myself. I’ll make or do something that initially, I enjoy creating and I think it’s great. And then the niggling doubt creeps in and over time, I start to dislike what I made or did; I think it isn’t good enough and I feel ashamed of it.

    I don’t know how to combat it really; I still let it happen with my creative hobbies; felt crafts I sew and things I try drawing. I’m more confident with my work now but I think I have easier ways of measuring my ability or success in that arena.

    Michelle -x-

    Liked by 1 person

    • Words by Nina says:

      I wonder if it’s something to do with how much we see pride as a bad thing. We’re always trying to be as modest as possible. It sounds like that extends to telling yourself you’re not good at your work or hobbies. We have to learn to ignore that inner voice!


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