As creatives, we often find ourselves stuck – like there’s something in front of us that we know we can only trip over. We don’t want to risk hurting ourselves so we don’t go forward. While staying in place is the seemingly safer path, in the long run it is far more painful. When we don’t try, we don’t grow. Not pushing through ultimately makes us frustrated, depressed, anxious – all the emotions that we don’t want to feel. Ironically, these are good things in the sense that they are signposts showing us the way …when we look at our writing pads, computers, sketchbooks, cameras, canvases, etc and feel those emotions, we see right where our issues are. Thank them and let them go.
As both an artist and a writer, I need to make time for my craft one way or another every day. Because I journal every morning, my writing skills are always kept well-oiled and in gear. While I do need to get new things down, edit and refine, it is much less effort because the fluidity is there. Or I blog, all so I can focus on my real craft, writing for children.
As for my drawing, that takes more effort. Many years ago, when I was in Pratt, our instructors had specific requirements of us students. From when we first took 2-D (drawing) in freshman year, we were required to have our sketchbook with us 24/7. And so we did. When I began to become more involved with photography in my junior year, we were required to carry our camera with us 24/7. Both these exercises had the same result – if you had it with you, you used it.
We began to draw and photograph each other, the cat, the campus, the subway – didn’t matter – it became a routine because that sketchbook or camera was attached at the hip. Admittedly, one felt like a fool after awhile having it there and ignoring it even when going through a dry patch. The bottom line is, make it easy for yourself, be kind, and without criticism, just do it.
All the moaning and excuses in the world won’t get any project advanced, but tinkering about with our craft will. What I’ve found is that even while we’re busily avoiding exactly what it is we truly need to get done, we can trick ourselves by doing something else. For example, I have a heap of work I want to do to strengthen my portfolio. It’s a big task and a lot to do. I really am psyched. But the enormity of it sets me back a bit. Should I do nothing? No – I decided to just draw other things – a little oil in the gears, and then I’m going.
This tree frog I drew has nothing to do with portfolio requirements. It had everything to do with actively kicking aside whatever might be there to trip me. So for all of us – take the back door approach if you will – draw, write, paint, doodle something … anything … just do it!
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