I think, that as creatives we all go through the same undulating cycle of drive and doubt. One minute we are struck with a bolt of inspiration that powers us into our next project…and then, for no reason, we slip into this pit of depression and self-doubt.
(I know there will be at least one douche bucket who will claim to never fall into such a spot, as moments of doubt are reserved for the weak-minded…they are lying…both to you and to themselves)
The question is, how and why do you get into these ruts, and more importantly, how do you get out? The thing is, you never really see it coming…one minute you are steaming away, the next you are blind-sided by the dark clouds of doubt on a random sunny afternoon. You sit with your hand on your jaw asking “why”…..wondering, what is the purpose of this…will anyone even like it after all the work I put in?
I sometimes slip into the rut of “I am not as good as I wish I could be” or find some other self-depreciating thought to weigh me down. I see awesome work posted on forums, galleries and other artistic communities and I begin to feel worthless. Sometimes, it is times like these that send me into my archives, mulling over old work I had done years ago. I see things that, at the time, I thought were AWESOME! Now I look back and say, what was I thinking?…But these were the stepping-stones that got me to where I am now. My work HAS improved vastly…I am not where I want to be, yet…but I am getting there. However “there” is relative…I do not think any creative will EVER be satisfied with where he or she is and that, is the psychosis that drives us ever onward. If we do not “DO” anything we cannot move forward, we cannot improve…we cannot achieve creative Nirvana. I honestly think, that without these “pauses of reflection” we cannot truly feel confident in the way we are going, creatively. It is a way of resetting our compass, so to speak.
The trick is, getting over the fear…That fear is stronger, I think, especially when you are a beginner. The fear that you are not good enough, the doubt that you will ever reach your goal, that you will be chewed up and dragged down by others bigger and better than you….and sadly, this overwhelming and often, unreasonable fear, stifles many a budding artist and they shrink away into the shadows, never to be heard from again. It feels like you are looking into the deep, dark depths of the ocean, unsure if you know how to swim, but, ironically, the only way to learn, is to get in the water…Some may jump right in, some may step in tentatively, but to get over the fear, you have to disable the voices of doubt and logic and just go for it.
I often believe that we are too concerned with pleasing others…pleasing people who really have no say in our lives. As a creative, one has to be true to themselves, to their ideas. On a deeper, philosophical level, we can look at it this way…We each are driven by ideas and experiences unique to us, it is what makes us individuals….this individuality makes the world diverse and interesting. We are each given this one life to tell our stories, share our ideas an express ourselves based on these unique thoughts, ideas and experiences. There should be no time to sit and worry about what other people think…Just live and create all that is crammed in your mind. Create with no regrets, because when we leave this earth, our work will be all that is left….so what will you leave behind? There is no time for doubt and untold stories, no time for undrawn pictures and unimagined animations. The time is now! Just do something…each new thing will be a stepping stone to the future, where you will be better. It is all about maturing as a creative by experience, and making those experiences happen for you, instead of waiting for it to be handed to you.
With maturity, you can learn to mentally silence the critics that aim to tear down instead of build up. I have been told, my work is lame, garbage, even amateur.. I have received “F”s in school and told that I am wasting my time. However, The same animation that never won an award in one festival aired on American television in 2009. Creating art is an emotional journey, and often many of us want to exist in the safety that exists where there is no critique…However, if one wants to be recognized, if one wants to grow and blossom, we have to take the sunshine as well as the rain and accept the roses and the thorns. If we want to sail to the distant shimmering shore, we have to learn to brave the storms and waves.
Sliding out of the rut is not an easy feat, but who else will express the creativity in your mind if you don’t? No one else can imagine your own imagination but you. One cannot “wait” to get good by watching hours of tutorials that you never put into practice…or by reading gigs of downloaded pdfs…getting good only comes by “doing”…by making mistakes and learning.
Carry on…and just remember:
I do not know the key to success, but the key to failure is trying to please everyone.
– Bill Cosby
Let go of the fear!