This is creative anxiety. It is evil. Brooding and nasty. I like to think of creative anxiety as an evil pixie who has come to loiter on my shoulder. She whispers cruel nothings into my ears. She pollutes my mind with doubt. I don't know what she wants from me. I think she wants me to rot on my couch eating cake and watching The Real Housewives of Orange County. This hateful creature has been hanging out on my shoulder time and time again for the last SEVEN years. Only, however when I try to draw portraits.
I ignore her vigilantly. I have learnt to now. I used to listen. Now I tune her out and keep going. I tell my-self 'Keep calm, carry on and IGNORE THE EVIL PIXIE IN YOUR BRAIN!' Sometimes it works, sometimes it doesn't. On the occasions when I get to the painting stage it all gets much better. Painting is my safe zone. It is free flowing and calming. Manipulating paint is much easier for me. The pixie is bored at that stage cus I think she knows she has lost the fight. Her heart is no longer in it. She has other dreams to crush elsewhere.
So how does one fight the creative anxiety? It doesn't matter if it is with playing guitar, knitting, baking, painting, writing. If our mind is filled with nasty, doubting, judging pixie voices, nothing is going to run smoothly. So how do we get thought it?
Flip that pixie the middle finger by hitting it everyday. Don't let that anxiety keep you away from what you love doing. And definitely do not let it make you dread it like I did. I think the fact that I let the pixie win for so many years is a good chunk of my problem. Now I have seven years of fear to break down.
Do it every day. Pick up that guitar, pen or paint brush and keep at it. Soon, you will find that what once was challenging is now a natural function. When things become more familiar, the fear goes away. Learning to drive is a good example of this. When I first started driving, I was terrified. I was so afraid of encountering a situation I wasn't familiar with. When I started driving everyday and challenging myself more that is when it started to get easier. Now I don't even think about it. And I definitely don't dread hopping into the car. I love it. Mariana still thinks I am a terrible driver, but at least I am not afraid of it.
KEEP CHALLENGING YOURSELF
Once you have been doing it daily for a week or so it is time to start upping the ante. If you flounder around in the shallows for too long, that is where you will stay. You need to apply some pressure occasionally to move forward and start swimming with the big fish. Do it slowly. Ease into it. Once you feel comfortable with what you are doing, add a little pressure by trying something harder, then keep at that until it is easy. That way you will grow and develop your skills.
REMEMBER WHERE YOU STARTED
Constantly remind yourself where you used to be. Remember you were once afraid to even try, now look at you! You are doing it every day! Look at your old work and how it has developed. Give your self props. You are doing well.
Remember to tell yourself you can do it. If you hear the pixie come fluttering in on her little stink wings, stop. Take a breath and say out loud "I can do this, I want to do this and I will do this." Tell yourself you are doing well. Be kind to yourself. Take deep breaths if you feel the doubt creep in, and don't let those thoughts stay. Shake them out and replace them with positive affirmations.
HAVE A PLAN
It can help to have a goal, theme or purpose for what you are doing. It doesn't need to be huge. It could just be that you are looking at exploring portraiture emotion, you could be aiming to write a novel for publishing, a play for a festival by a given date, perform a song at a friends party. It could be anything. All you need is something to give the work purpose and drive and also inspire more work to come.
This is a big one for me. When I engage in cardio for over 30 minutes, something explodes in my head. I can feel all doubt, sadness and disdain melt away. In it's place I am left with an abundance of inspiration! Most of my art, blog, and play ideas come from an exercise endorphin rush. So remember to stay active and pump out that stagnant dust.
It is absolutely essential for creative women to surround themselves with other creative women. Whether it be to bounce ideas off of each other, to support each others projects, to inspire each other, whatever. Sometimes the best way to work through a creativity snag is to talk it out, and if like mine your partner/hubby/lover-man is somewhat creatively un-opinionated then it is vital to find someone to talk with about art and creating. Mariana is my main go-to for creative conversing. We pitch all our ideas at each other and help each other cut a clear path in our projects. It is totally invaluable.