I’ve been in a weird creative headspace lately.
My doctor put me on some new meds and the fog that I wade through most of the time has lifted quite a bit. When the fog lifts, my creative drive kicks into overdrive. It’s hard not to get swept away by it all. It is intense and beautiful and terrifying. I get anxious that I will allow an idea or the ability to bring that idea to life slip through my fingers and then it will be gone. Instagram has been my friend lately. I’ve been drawing on a schedule rather than waiting for a good time. It’s pushed me to get better. I jokingly hashtag my work #practicemakesyousuckless. I laugh because it’s true. There really isn’t a life hack to getting better at a craft other than showing up and doing the damn thing, day-after-day-after-day.
I’ve always considered myself a painter first. I am comfortable with the brush in my hand and paint under my nails. Pushing and pulling paint across a surface is coming home to myself. I realized after going through my daily comp books (a creative practice I’ll write about in greater detail later), it became glaringly clear that I have been self-limiting. I wasn’t drawing because it was hard. I had (okay, still have) this innate expectation that lies to me that if the idea isn’t realized the way I see it in my head, then it is somehow less worthy… less important. I said it before but it bears repeating, you get better by showing the hell up. So, this month, I worked hard to produce and submit one drawing a day. Some days I produced two or three. Some days life got in the way and I had to skip it. I decided to give myself some grace. This exercise isn’t about perfection. This exercise is allowing myself to struggle with things that are hard. I have give myself permission to suck at doing stuff.
Confession time: I don’t think that I suck at drawing. The point that I am ineloquently trying to drive home is that we all have to start from somewhere. The equation for progress is repetition over time. In plain terms: it is showing the hell up and doing the work.
Making things, regardless of medium, is not about having some bullshit pedigree. It’s not about having the coolest camera or the highest quality paint or the best ink. It’s not about a degree or formal education. Those things are fantastic, but they are not the gatekeepers of good work. Art happens when we allow our brains room for our imaginations to run free. The limitations that we think are there are self-imposed. Hell, it isn’t really about the product anyway. The art is the act of making, not the thing that results from the act. We get so caught up in the product that we forget the magic of how the paint brush feels in our hand. That feeling, that is art. The product is just the thing that an outsider can witness. Creating things happens in our brains and our bodies long before it translates to song, or paint, or ink. Why must we judge ourselves and each other based on byproducts? Seems completely bonkers when you think about it.
Making things is a high that can’t come from a bottle or a smoke. It takes energy and when my brain is in a crappy place, it is near impossible to push myself to get the party started. That is where my habits save me. The routines of carrying my comp books everywhere to capture ideas, sketches, and inspiration allow me to come back and flesh things out when my body has more space to process them fully. Just knowing that I am going to stare at a blank page later with the deadline to make and post slices through the need to spend energy worrying about it being good. I can’t focus on being good. I have to focus on finishing the thing and moving on. Creativity births creativity. The more you create the more you are driven to create even when you are in a messed up headspace.
Ultimately, this isn’t a competition.
There is no creativity grade to reach.
People who naysay your work should shove that up their butt.
“I could have made that!” Well, you didn’t, sucker, so shut it. *my secret thoughts*
Don’t get in your own way.
Making things will change your life.
All you have to do is show the hell up
and make the damn thing.
I’ll be there too.
You are not alone.
Let’s do this.