Tuesday, 26 September 2017

What Stops Us Creating (and what to do about that)

Having a creative business working as an artist isn't exactly like a 9 to 5 job.  Creative work is laced with emotion and feeling, there can be difficult moments of lack, despair and comparison to overcome, vast pits of empty nothing when it feels as if all the ideas that I once had have evaporated overnight, that awkward phase of 'not being able to paint anymore' when it all feels forced and ridiculous and physically putting paint onto a palette is akin to walking through black treacle.
Creating art to share with the world exposes our vulnerability, we are laying the bare bones of our soul out for all to see and this can be tremendously difficult when you first start out.

Stepping up and allowing ourselves to be vulnerable, and to be seen is one of the bravest things we can do.

But this work also bubbles with deep joy, as I share my innermost thoughts and ideas on paper or canvas with you.  When the ideas seem to flow out through the brush without any conscious effort on my part and the colours and the images blend beautifully and come together in a way that is more than I could have ever engineered by myself.  The euphoria and endorphins generated by moments such as these are worth every second where it felt hard, or didn't work out.

I know from experience that this work can be difficult if it's forced or pushed.  An idea that was once laden with enthusiasm and excitement can be snuffed out like a candle, and I am left standing in the quiet emptiness.  Where did it go?  How can something that felt so amazing suddenly dissipate and feel so empty?  It is important to seize the moment when you can, follow the flow when the idea ignites your soul, and if you can't then realise that you might have to let that one go.  We worry that we will never have another idea like it, that was it - our moment of genius - gone!  But know this: there will be others, there will always be others.

I accept that there will be days when it doesn't flow - it's the natural order of a creative mind to ebb and flow like the tides, there will be rich, flourishing times and there will be barren ones too.  On these days I take to other work, like writing or going for a walk - or both.  Walking proves to be a wonderful tonic for times when I feel stuck, it is very rare that I return from a walk in the woods or over the hills without a new spark of an idea on how to move forward again and that's when I grab my journal and write things down, make a note, do a sketch.  It's there in black and white then, a solid reminder of a new beginning.

It's really important to notice when the natural ebb and flow is turning into procrastination though. This is when we decide that we need to be online shopping, cleaning up or doing something else rather than our creative work.  It is a sly, and devious companion to a creative soul, wandering in the wake of our despair and seductively teasing us away from what calls us, delaying us, stealing our joy.

I am now more aware of these times, and guide myself back to what I truly need, rather than vacuous pursuits like spending money on Stuff or idling away the hours on Facebook.  When I relent and give in to procrastination, I know that I am coming from a place of fear.  Fear is what stops us, it's what makes us ignore the call to create - it's most likely deeply ingrained within our subconscious, and we don't realise that while we waste hours on our devices or wandering around the shops, we are simply covering up the fear of failing, of not being good enough.

I know now, that I can only create if I surrender and accept.

I have to accept the roller coaster of emotions, the quiet spells when I have no ideas, the times when procrastination calls, the times when I wonder if it's good enough.

The secret is to keep challenging it all though, to keep moving forward.  If you don't accept and surrender, and keep moving forward you will never begin.  You will never learn what it feels like to be in that almost celestial space of creating from your soul, to be completely in the moment where time doesn't exist.
Allow yourself to be vulnerable, to make a start.  Allow yourself to begin, despite the fear and the difficulties.  Imagine where you will be this time next year if you start now - imagine where you will be if you don't.

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