“To be perfect brings isolation.”
“To be perfect brings isolation.”
We’re taught to seek constan improvement, to work on our weaknesses and out-do our previous performances, because better is better… right?
Except it’s not better when making art is involved. How you feel making during the process IS the point. The fun of making something out of nothing, the sensory experience of using your hands and switching off your mind for a few precious moments in your day is worth gold. To reconnect to the part of you that enjoys making something just for fun, with no a hint of it needing to be productive or valuable far outweighs any incremental progress you’ll achieve.
You don’t NEED to get any better in order to continue making art. You have everything right now to make something from nothing and it’s even better if the art is messy and flawed. Why focus on impossible task of making everything perfectly if it doesn’t feel fun?
“There’s nothing to be done,
No way you need to prove.
Your art is already enough.
There’s nothing to improve.”
Are you a creative person? If you instantly reply no, consider questioning the belief you’re not creative. If you define being creative as someone who makes masterpiece art and has built a career out of their work, then no wonder you can’t match up to such a high level of creativity. It doesn’t leave much room for most of us when you set the bar that high. What if being creative meant making something? No detail of the quality, quantity, style, look, feel or outward popularity of what was made. You make something and therefore you are creative.
Ken Robinson in Out of Our Minds argues “Being creative involves doing something. It would be odd to describe as creative someone who never did anything. To call somebody creative suggests they are actively producing something in a deliberate way… Creativity involves putting your imagination to work.”
You are automatically creative through the act of making something. Don’t let yourself tell yourself otherwise and go get to work and make a thing today.
Creating art can feel a lot like making something in the dark. Surround by complete darkness, you fumble and bump about, trying to get a feel for what you’re making and where you’re going. This is a normal part of the creative process. The more unknown things are, the greater potential for creativity, if we can learn to be brave in the darkness. With practice and hope – a belief you will work it out – comes bravery.
Anne Lamott in Bird by Bird encourages “Hope begins in the dark, the stubborn hope that if you just show up and try to do the right thing, the dawn will come. You wait and watch and work.” Hope still finds a way in the darkness, you don’t need to know everything before you begin.
Keep showing up to your art, keep fumbling about and you will be rewarded over time.
4 steps to becoming more creative:
1. Carry a small notebook/sketchbook and pen/pencil wherever you go
Write down your ideas, make notes of things you like as soon as you see them, practice making art on the go or in fringe time that normally gets swallowed up looking at your phone. Get curious about your daily surroundings, mine your life and record your discoveries. The scrappier and cheaper it is, the more likely perfectionists will actually use it instead of keeping it ‘unspoilt’ in its perfect original state!
2. Make something everyday
Make something, ANYTHING to practice exercising your creativity muscle. If you can find a spare two minutes, then you have enough time to make something. If you think “what’s the point of only spending two minutes?” It adds up to an hour after a month and creates a small pile of art. Spending two minutes is better than spending zero minutes (especially if the myth of having to spend hours making art feels overwhelming and is stopping you from making anything at all).
3. Focus on quantity not quality
When you make art for yourself, you can let go of it needed to look ‘good.’ You’re not in school trying to please the teacher anymore. You get to make bad, messy and imperfect art because you ENJOY it. That’s the only important reason you need. By focusing on quantity, it helps to shift focus from worrying if you’re not doing it ‘right’. And when making quantity can actually accelerate creativity, quality can be so overrated.
4. Start making art right now
Don’t wait for the start of the year/month/week to roll round. Start NOW. You’ve heard you only need two minutes so pick up a pencil and paper and make some marks immediately!
Wanting approval or feedback from others about your art when just starting out is understandable. We often ask others for opinions on other matters and so value an outsiders point of view. But if you’re only looking for external validation that what you’re doing is worth the time investment and the feedback isn’t 100% encouraging, you may find yourself disheartened (keeping your art secret may be a good idea).
Tara Mohr in Playing Big says “Feedback gives us facts about the opinions and preferences of those giving the feedback. It can’t tell you about your merit or worthiness. When we understand this, we’re free; we’re free to seek, gather, and incorporate feedback.” When creativity is subjective and personal taste so varied, there is no one ‘right’ opinion. When we let go of what other people think, we leave space to discover what we think. Being self-reflective about your own art helps grow tastes, preferences and your ideas as an artist. Seeking others opinions won’t get you any closer to discovering what art lights you up.
Mohr make the point that women are more likely to have a dependence to praise: “When a woman is trying to unhook from dependence on praises, it’s no trivial matter. She is working on retraining her mind from generations – old conditioning about what is required to survive.”
It’s no easy feat to let go of seeking eternal praise, especially when it can feel so good. But unhooking from the dependence of that praise and replacing it with your own feedback, your art doesn’t have to fit someone else’s expectations. You can instead get on with the fun task of making more art – art that you find interesting and you love to make.