Sometimes when you have been working a creative project for a very long time you will encounter a moment (or a whole flock of them) where you feel like quitting. Where the energy you pour and pour into something feels lost. This seems to be more common with the advent social media, we’re expected to continuously pour free content and work into these mediums and you don’t always see a payoff from your efforts- all while being berated by and endless highlight reel of our peers.
As someone who’s been doggedly working at her creative endeavor for over ten years I have had those moments, times where it seems super appealing to just give up and let go. But when the clouds clear I am always thankful I didn’t quit. So here are some of my tips on how I’ve withstood those stormy dark days where things feel especially futile, so I can keep making art and exploring when the sun comes back out.
Remember It’s Temporary: Life is fleeting, memento mori. Even if you struggle forever it’ll eventually end- okay, maybe that’s not super comforting to everyone (but it weirdly is for me). If you’ve encountered slumps before in your process remember those times, and that you returned to yourself again once they passed. You’ll get through this low point, it may take some effort to shake off the shadows, but it will happen.
Get Inspired: When your creative energy is low it’s a great time to pour inspiring content into your brain! Go to a gallery (lots of them have free or low cost evenings), watch art films, read some art history books or studies on famous artists who’s work you like, get out and explore the world around you. Even if you aren’t creating anything new you’re feeding beauty and new things into your brain so when you come back to making art you will have fresh fuel.
Experiment: It can help lift you out of a rut to try some new things. Pick a new medium to make art in, learn a new skill, take a quick class in cooking or crafting. Even if it’s just trying some weird makeup tutorial off of youtube or buying a new coloring book, doing something new and experimenting with that can often remind you why you love your pursuit. It gives you a fresh angle to approach your work from!
Resist Comparison: Comparing yourself to others is a terrible waste of energy. Most of the time what you are seeing on social media are peoples’ highlight reels, no one posts about their rotten day or late bills. Measuring yourself by the success of others ignores all the things that lead to their success, and keeps you from appreciating your own. We all start somewhere, and not all of us start at the same line. Often when I fall into these traps I take it as a sign to pare down my social media feeds, I un-follow every account that doesn’t inspire or excite me. I don’t need it, neither do you!
Be Kind To Yourself: You wouldn’t say mean things to your best friend about their work, value, or success- why say them to yourself? When that negative voice crops up saying you’re not good enough or not far enough along in your life pause and tell it to stop (I find it helps to give the bully-voice a name- mine is “Becky”, aka “No, Becky, shut up”). You don’t have to believe your work is the best, but you do have to believe it is worth pursuing.
Redirect: If you’re stalled in your endeavor take stock and think of what you could do differently, are there avenues you haven’t explored? Things to implement? You will undoubtedly alter the course of your trajectory infinitely while at this, it doesn’t mean what you did before was wrong, it’s just calibrating towards the next step. My work has changed so much since I began Gloomth, I am constantly refining my eye and trying new approaches to what we do- it is a process, not a single destination.
I hope these tips help you stay inspired and ignited about your efforts. The world is a better place because of the art you create, even if you don’t see it.