The Downside

When the ‘creative block’ starts to feel like relief.

We’ve heard it all before eh? To be successful at art, you have to be obsessive. You have to lock yourself in your quiet space, work on a piece day in and day out, fail miserably, make sacrifices and risk it all. And if you’re not careful, you risk the joy and peace it once brought you.

One problem with taking on creative projects is the common belief in an all-or-nothing strategy. We hear so much about the “true” artists locking themselves away until they have created a masterpiece that we feel that’s the only way something can get done. If we don’t cancel our weekend plans or put our phones on do not disturb then we’ll never make something worthwhile. Once we realize that we still want to go out with friends on Friday, catch up on the newest seasons of that show we liked and just sort of zone out on Sunday, we start getting down on our ability to create. We’re not taking it seriously enough so why bother trying to do it at all?

Hours where you feel like you were running around in circles. Moments where you think you have wasted all this time working on something that wasn’t worth starting in the first place. If you look at your creative project like a chore, something that just has to get done, then you start pushing it off more and more. It becomes the thing you start to actively avoid because whatever inspired you to do it in the first place has been replaced by the misery of actual work. If it’s a process you don’t enjoy, then why spend time on it? There are a handful of things in your life that aren’t fun and will actually help you out — like you could clean your apartment finally.

Sure, some people believe that art needs to be a solemn exorcising of great pain and turmoil, but others like Kurt Vonnegut, who dealt with many dark, serious topics through his career looked at his art as something more amusing: “Sing in the shower. Dance to the radio. Tell stories.”

Additionally, art is therapy. But alas, we are still naive about the process to make something impressive, even if, just for yourself. Contentment is actually the hindrance of progress.