Dusting off drawing skills, and getting it done
Hi, guys and dolls. I've simply been letting my creativity take me where it wants to go. It feels a bit like when grown-ups let kids drag them to places unfamiliar, impractical, and maybe even a bit embarrassing, but as these sort of things go, it's never a dull moment.
It seems the place of choice at present is
(There, I've said it. Currently quelling inner panic, but I think I'll manage.)
It's been ages since I've taken pencil to paper, but well, you know, why not give it a try? It's good practice, gets my ideas out in the open to see how work-able and do-able they are, and I don't really lose much, except perhaps a bit of my comfort zone. Plus, it's a good way to beat the living daylights out of my self-consciousness and self-doubt, and just get the work done.
Self-doubt and panic attacks
Kicking self-consciousness and constant worry to the curb can be a good thing for us to do, no matter how scary the thought can get. I say scary, because it's been noted that every time we set out to do something we've never done before, there's this tiny, nervous voice at the back of our heads that sets panic alarms off.
"Oh wow, this is kinda new for me. I wonder how well I can pull this off. Can I actually pull this off? I mean, other folks do it so amazingly well, I don't know if I can get up to their level. Oh gosh, do I even have the right skill set for this? Do I have the right perspective to this? What if I do it and give it all I've got, and it comes out an absolute fail next to their work? Was I meant for this? What the hell am I even doing here?! How could I even think I could actually do this?! I can't even --"
It sure does to me.
I can't even begin to tell you how often I've had panic attacks like that in my mind. It's happened for my writing, my sewing, my sketching, even for my yoga. Heck, it's even happened when James and I first moved in together! I ran all these questions in my mind over and over again, got all worked up, left my pens and pencils untouched, and buried my face in a pillow.
A bit later on, -- okay, waaaay later on, -- I realized all that time I spent having panic attacks and rolling around in self-doubt could have been spent (1) getting the work done, and (2) not giving a toss if it failed or what. If it's good or great, then okay; if it sucks, well, then it sucks. That's that. What mattered was -- and is-- I got the work done.
I also realized that (1) I had been a complete idiot wasting all that time worrying and panicking needlessly, and (2) I could still do something about this, and (3) it's time to get things done.
The key here, I believe, is to not get stuck on #1.
Buddhist teaching says that wisdom comes after the folly, so the best teachers are actually the ones who speed up the folly. In this light, I suppose I am my own best teacher.
Some pensive thoughts and a few timid sketches later, it dawned on me why it was so important to get the work done, crappy, brilliant, or otherwise.
Inspiration does exist, but it must find you working. -- Pablo Picasso
There will be days when I will turn out mind-blowingly brilliant pieces, and days when my ideas will be derpier than a pile of rocks. Squeezing water out of a stone may also seem like genius next to my work, and I could even get to a point where table-flipping in rage and frustration will seem like an absolutely reasonable reaction.
These could all happen. These are all very real.
The point is to keep working.
I now share this with you:
Work through your brilliant days. Work through your dumb-as-rocks days. Work through your "lol i dunno" days. Just. keep. working.
The real deal
Allow me now to harshly debunk a few cherished myths:
- Keeping at it will not turn you into a genius overnight, over the week, over the month, and so on.
- ... will not instantly earn you the respect or admiration of friends and family.
- ... will not magically make your day job any easier, nor your everyday chores any lighter.
- ... will not turn you into the next multi-millionaire at the drop of a hat.
- ... will not guide the biggest and hottest talent scouts, TV shows, publications, celebrities, or brands by some some unseen hand to your doorstep and offer you The Chance of a Lifetime.
- ... will not pull you and your family out of poverty in a year or more, the way the TV dramas love to show it.
Nope. Sorry. Keeping at it will do none of these for you. Zero. Nada.
However, keeping at it will do a number of other things for you.
Keeping at it will help you discover new skills and techniques you never thought you had, and it will encourage you to keep getting better at these.
Keeping at it will give you a body of work -- depending on how often you keep at it and how much you put yourself into it --, and this will give you a sense of growth, help you gauge how much you've improved, where you are now, and where you are heading, skill-wise.
This will also help you observe how you've developed your own personal perspective with your work, what aspects of your point-of-view got discarded, what got strengthened as more defined, and so on. Later on, you will realize this is what some people call an artist's style.
This will help you figure out what your strengths and weaknesses are, and what you can do with both of them to come out with something you can be proud of. Yes, I said both of them.
This will give you more opportunities to challenge yourself to try something new, and when you eventually become very good at this something new, you can move on to another something new. You eventually grow your repertoire this way.
This can open you up to other like-minded folks. You will have opportunities to exchange ideas, learn from them, try ideas out, ask for feedback, and maybe even do collaborations with them. If you're lucky, they might even tell you they like your work.
This helps you maintain your body of work fresh, current, and at its best. If you're lucky -- really lucky -- when an opportunity comes, you will want to be ready.
Take note, I said an opportunity. Not the opportunity.
This will help you stay hungry, stay foolish and keep asking the kind of questions that don't really need to have answers. These are the best kinds of questions, actually, because they keep you pondering and arriving at more possibilities and realizations. Don't be surprised if these birth more questions -- cherish them. They're 100% yours, and through your questions, you learn in a much more personal and self-realizing way.
Keeping at it will take you one slow step in front of the other, onward and always forward, until you look back and realize how far you've come, and how much different you are now from the you when you first started. A sense of accomplishment does wonders for a person, believe me.
Hopefully, I'll be able to buy a decent set of either coloring pencils, or watercolors soon. There's lots of work to be done.
How do you keep yourself motivated to keep working?