As surely as biscuits go with sausage gravy, so too does discouragement come with creativity.
I’ve actually found that the amount of discouragement an artist feels is directly proportional to his/her ability. The more discouragement he/she feels, the higher the ability. The less discouragement he/she feels, well… you get it. Don’t believe me? Just watch one of the audition episodes of American Idol. The contestants who think they’re amazing are the ones that suck the most, whereas the contestants who actually have talent are sobbing in a corner because they think they’re awful. It’s a fascinating paradigm.
So, what do you do when you’re inevitably stricken with discouragement? How do you plow through so you can get back to work? Here are three tips that work pretty well for me. Maybe you’ll find them useful, too:
Quit comparing yourself to other artists’ talent! I do this all the time. I admire A LOT of artists, and I can waste a lot of time looking through online portfolios and tumblr pages. But there comes a point when my admiration starts to fade into discouragement. Instead of being fascinated by a cartoonist’s linework, I all-of-sudden feel like I’ll never be able to ink as well as her. Before too long I’m reevaluating all of my artistic progress and eventually decide that I’m not good enough to keep trying.
Silly, isn’t it? Believe me, I feel dumb just typing it out. But I bet you’ve felt that way hundreds of times, too. You wanna know the best way to defeat that feeling? Stop looking at other people’s art! Eyes back on your own paper! You’ve got work to do!
Quit comparing yourself to other artists’ successes! Not only do I admire others’ artwork, but I oftentimes admire their success. Which isn’t a bad thing, but, left unchecked, can become very unhealthy.
Jon Acuff says we need to stop comparing our beginning with someone else’s middle. In other words, we can’t expect to have the same results as someone who’s waste-deep in their career while we’re still getting our toes in the water. It takes time. It takes work. For most of us, it seems to take a lot more time and work than it takes for others.
Keep at it. You’re not alone.
Force yourself to work! The best way to plow through discouragement is the simplest and the hardest. When we’re discouraged, we don’t want to work. We feel like we’re not worthy of the work. But that’s how discouragement wins, and you don’t want discouragement to win.
Trust me, you’ll be AMAZED at how fast your discouragement will fade once you put your pencil back to the paper. You quickly forget about what it was that made you feel unworthy. You get back into a groove. You find your voice again. It’s exhilirating.
Know this, my fellow creatives: Discouragement will come, but she can be beaten. Her bark is much worse than her bite.
What methods do you use to overcome discouragement?