Have you ever thought of giving up on something you really love?
Have you ever thought that its just too hard, your idea will never work, you’ll never succeed, you’re not good enough?
Have I had that thought? Yes…the thoughts of not being good enough plague me constantly, but would I give it all up? Could I give it all up?
For some time I have been really struggling to get my mojo going. It’s hard to be creative when there are other things going on in my life. The longer I am away from my studio and the longer I leave it before picking up a pencil or paintbrush, the harder it is to get back into it.
It should be easy shouldn’t it, if I truly love what I do? Shouldn’t I be wanting to do this all day, every day? So why would I rather do almost anything than paint some days? My house has never been cleaner! Everything has been tidied and sorted twice over. What now?
Now I have to face the fear. Just do a sketch, I don’t even have to show it to anyone. It’s not hard is it?
“What if I can’t do it anymore? What if I am kidding myself – do I really love it? I mean, if I haven’t wanted or been able to paint in weeks, surely I can’t love it that much? But I do love it. So what am I afraid of?“
The fear is real. Or at least it seems it.
A friend once told me that FEAR actually stands for ‘False Evidence Appearing Real’…so how do we overcome it/ conquer it?
I am not sure that it is possible to conquer completely, but it is possible to push it to one side enough to be able to move forward. It’s about changing the internal dialogue and the stories I tell myself. It’s about getting out of my comfort zone and standing naked (see my blog on this topic).
As Brene Brown would say – you can’t compete if you are not even in the arena:
“It is not the critic who counts; not the man who points out how the strong man stumbles, or where the doer of deeds could have done them better. The credit belongs to the man who is actually in the arena, whose face is marred by dust and sweat and blood; who strives valiantly; who errs, who comes short again and again, because there is no effort without error and shortcoming; but who does actually strive to do the deeds; who knows great enthusiasms, the great devotions; who spends himself in a worthy cause; who at the best knows in the end the triumph of high achievement, and who at the worst, if he fails, at least fails while daring greatly.”
Brené Brown, Daring Greatly
So it’s about doing something creative daily. Anything. One step at a time. Often that little sketch leads to another and another and before long you’re having fun which is what it’s all about after all. Once you’re in the flow then this tends to naturally lead to more. Stick on some music – something that makes you feel good, play, slap on some paint and have fun. Then you can get more serious if you need to, but first you have to simply get going.
Remember that you are unique – there is only one YOU and only one person that can create like you. You can copy other artists and they can copy you, but that can’t be maintained. Long term we will always find our voice and we will create something unique that is us.
“The world always seems brighter when you’ve just made something that wasn’t there before”
Neil Gaiman, Art Matters
Try these tips to get going again:
- Sketch, this loosens you up and gets you out of your head. Try a couple of 5-10 minute sketches, focusing on what you see and not making a masterpiece.
- Make a messy painting – just get stuck in without any intention of it becoming something – that takes the preciousness out if it and allows you to free up. Check out Louise Fletcher’s Blog Post on this very topic here.
- Find something that inspires you (magazines, books, go for a walk). Try to stay off Social Media but if you have to try being more objective about another artists work – analyse why you like a particular artists work – is it the colours, or line work etc.
- Say ‘Yes” to opportunities – having deadlines helps with procrastination as you simply don’t have as much time to stop and think. Often the pressure of not meeting the deadline outweighs the fear of whether the art is good enough! If your creative work is a hobby, not a job, it may be hard to enforce deadlines. In this case, make those commitments to anyone who will hold you accountable -whether that’s an understanding friend, a creative colleague, your spouse, or an expectant social media following.
- Listen to something that makes you feel good. One study found that listening to happy music has been shown to improve creativity.
Alternatively, try listening to a podcast, “Working while listening to podcasts keeps my conscious mind stimulated in a different way, and seems to let my creative/visual side run loose and work without worry. Disconnecting from life’s daily distractions, and sort of separating myself into two halves feels like it’s been the best tactic for me to almost feel meditative while I paint.”– Audrey Kawasaki, painter.
- Work through the process – sit and do the work. Accept it might not be great but do it anyway. It will get better and the more you work through these difficult patches, the more you realise that there are temporary phases and come and go.
- Tidy! Tidy your creative space, re-organise. They say a “change is as good as a rest”. I know when my studio gets a spring clean I often feel revived and inspired and want to spend time in there. Often you find something in the tidying process that kicks off an idea too.
I hope some of those ideas help. Happy creating and thank you for reading. x