The yips and art

There is a condition called "the yips" in baseball and golf.  It is where players get a mental block that prevents them from completing seemingly simple on-field tasks.

It can happen to even the best of them. 

Yips is a funny word, but it captures something that most creatives have experienced.  Those times when the simple things leave our reach. 

I find that when I stop writing, it is often because the critic in my head says I'm not very good. 

That what I'm creating lacks value...

The thing about mental hurdles is that they aren't easily traversed. You'd think you could just "get over it" but that isn't what happens. Instead, you just miss or balk or simply can't complete a task. 

The yips are linked to confidence. On the field, a miss creates other misses and other misses get your body involved with little twitches or tics that you can't control. For creatives, it shows up as writers block or artists block. 

Confidence and criticism are inherently linked. Praise buoys the muse and critique makes her stamp her foot and run away.  It is hard to get a bad review on Amazon and not feel it. Or have someone dismiss your work as if it doesn't matter and be immune to the effect. 

For those of us who produce art professionally, there is no "open mic night." We work with editors, producers and curators who are creating something as well—weaving together aggregates of other people's work to produce a cohesive whole. 

Sometimes the process is generative and sometimes not, and most artists develop a thick skin over time where they can objectify their own work in order to survive it. 

But every once in awhile you don't, and you get the yips. And you find that Google will provide endless results that describe the condition while offering no real solution except that you have to play our way out of it.

And maybe, just maybe in doing so, the muse will honor our dedication and come back to sit by our side. 

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© Random Cathy
Maira Gall