This post may seem incredibly pessimistic, but I’m sure most creatives can relate. Personally, I suffer from being my own worst critique. Everything I create and do I always want it to be the “best”. I try to let go and have a surfers approach towards creativity in just “getting up and giving it a go”; but I constantly suffer from this perfectionist mindset of making everything I do "incredible.”
As a fan of music, art, illustration, film and other creative avenues I’d always want to look at things and be “blown away”. Getting this feeling from other original channels has aspired me to give this feeling to others through my work. Though to continually output incredible work is either unrealistic or impossible.
I’m always scrolling through the likes of Pinterest and Instagram trying to find a large amount of influences. I feel like I’m always looking for a “new wave” of techniques or looks within visual art. On top of that, I’m still exploring and trying out new tutorials to make sure my technical skills are at their best.
Recently on the last two pieces, I’ve been working on it’s felt like I’ve been dragging myself through the mud. The process has felt a little messy, and the ideas haven't come out flowing as naturally as I’d hope. Additionally, my exhaustion has been really getting to me. Majority of the time I’ve been doing my work is at the end of the day, and I’m spent. Mentally I feel like I have nothing yet I keep trying to push myself and to keep going.
Banging my head against the wall, I felt like this piece, in particular, was just not happening in the way I’d hope. The whole piece felt like a struggle. My uncertainty and indecision were kicking in, and it just didn’t feel natural at all.
Feeling beaten down by the process, I felt very fraudulent. My expectations and focus on results was slowly kicking in and I very much got in a “why should I bother” mindset. Fixating on inconsistent results (a common mistake I made) made me think I should give up. Why should I put all this work in if I’m not getting the results I want?
Stepping outside of myself I realised “this is it, this is the process”. This is why we have more critiques then creatives. Because trying to create original work is hard. It's not easy by any means to continually keep showing up and trying to outdo yourself.
We can quickly become susceptible to what critical people have to say. Yet more often then not the critics are far too afraid to get out there and fail themselves. The critics are too scared to try. The critics are too fearful of embarrassing themselves.
Commonly said and it’s almost becoming a cliche nowadays, but no one has inherited incredible abilities and status. People work relentlessly at their craft, business to get it to a position of perceived status.
At the moment I’ve been enjoying Phil Night's book Shoe Dog, which focuses on how he developed and started Nike. A lot of people don’t realise this, but the company he started initially was Blue Ribbon. Blue Ribbon was the only company in America importing and selling Tiger shoes in the U.S. The struggles and anxieties he discusses in starting the business are very humbling to hear. The amount of debt he was facing, the uncertainty in forming the brand and ultimately trying to get the respect and support of investors. It’s incredible to hear these stories of starting this company from nothing. Right now Nike is such a household and well-spread name we can quickly forget that this company was literally built from nothing.
With social media continually promoting “healthy living” and “living your passion”, I find there’s a strong prominence on this notion of a "struggle free life". Through social media, I feel there's this unspoken rule about how everything needs to be good, clean and healthy.
Yet the reality of any significant achievement is pushing through pain, agony and adversity. Personally, I've been trying to counter this culture and have repeatedly been telling myself to “embrace the pain”. To stay strong and to push through what I think is impossible. I’m mainly trying to embrace the negativity in my journey to overcome my adversities.
All thought the title of this podcast may deter a lot of people but, when interviewed Michael Matthews was interviewed on the Knowledge for Men Podcast, promotes this idea of continually learning. He supports this idea of when learning a new subject, to attempt to read a minimum of 25 books on that subject. He then goes full militant and says "He doesn’t even listen to music much recreationally and tries to listen to audiobooks as much as possible".
Within any struggle, I think it’s important to have this mindset of continually willing to be pushed outside of your comfort zone and always wanting to get better. It may not necessarily eliminate all of your struggles, but having a mindset of always wanting to learn will alleviate a lot of the struggles you’re going through within your journey.
It sounds corny as hell, but the latest audiobook I’ve added to my list is The Art of Creative Thinking Audiobook. Now creativity is something I have experience in, but I always want to get better at what I’m doing. And the only way that’s possible is taking in new ideas and mindsets from other people within this field.
Always keep pushing when things are complicated and never stop adapting to your surroundings. Always endeavour to keep learning. Keep chasing experiences and don’t focus on results!