The Great Discontent: Why Auto-Critique can be a Good Thing

Are creative people always discontent?


I have been thinking about “the great discontent” creative types suffer from and how it forces us to experience an uncomfortable sense of “not being good enough” where our work does not meet certain standards.

I am not convinced creatives have to be miserable in order to create their best work although I do think there is some sense in feeling the unease of discontent from time to time. Some creatives might revel in the melancholy but for others, like myself, we experience peaks and troughs where we sway between loving and loathing our work; where we criticise ourselves and the content we produce.

This hunger for more encourages us to produce better work. Discontent is the driving force behind propelling mediocre work into something great; it’s a transitional period that inspires creativity and champions change.

There are times where our work, our daily lives, our day jobs, or our bank balance doesn’t match up to our expectations and this discontent pushes us to work harder, to create better content, and to improve ourselves. Once we improve, this brings us full circle into happiness again.. at least for a while.

These peaks and troughs, this endless struggle means we are constantly challenging our creativity; we are perpetually putting our work under the microscope, to force ourselves to see the imperfections and to figure out how to improve them.

Creatives shouldn’t ever wallow too long in negativity and self-doubt can be terribly destructive, yet these moments of self-criticism are crucial for transforming the work we create into something bigger. The transitional phase of the great discontent is so important to our growth as creative people and the creative lifestyle we want to lead.