Finding confidence in your creative work

Creating art for a living is a true privilege and extremely fulfilling. But the act of creating requires some level of vulnerability which could be cause for huge anxiety. Putting yourself out there for the world to see, and possibly criticize, can be daunting and scary. Sometimes even crippling.

But what if you have this burning desire to create, and can’t seem to get past the anxiety?

You sit down to draw and all you feel are overwhelming emotions like self-criticism and fear. You sketch, but you hate what you see. You think everything you produce is just crap! And because it’s crap, you become even more anxious and disappointed!

Sound familiar?

This vicious cycle is crippling and destructive. It’s a cycle I know very well. I had the same insecurities when I started illustrating full time. It got so bad that some days I would just breakdown and wonder how I would ever be good enough to make a success of this.

Getting out of my negative rut took some serious introspection. I realised that having a desire to illustrate is not an accident, it’s something I just knew I had to do. So I started approaching my drawing differently.

Instead of seeing it as a vulnerable piece of work I’m creating, I started treating it the same way I would bake a cake! Or assemble a piece of furniture. The process for these are the same, it has a start, middle and end. This helped me remove my “self” from the equation and see it like any other activity I was doing with my hands.

The emotional hook attached to drawing became less and less, which freed me up to just sit down and get on with it. Soon I was drawing very regularly and improving my skills, which in turn gave me more confidence in my work. The act of creating became the enjoyment, rather than the outcome.

We recently received a letter from a listener of The Honest Designers Show about his anxiety and lack of confidence in his work. So we decided to address this important topic in the latest episode. We discuss some ways for him to find more enjoyment in what he’s doing, and relieve some of the pressure that he’s currently feeling about his creative work.

You can listen here to Episode 21.

The act of creating is an enjoyable and privileged experience. When we focus on making the journey pleasurable, the outcome naturally becomes more beautiful.


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