It can be so fleeting, so momentary, so difficult to control. If you’re a creative, you know that sometimes it seems to take the perfect atmosphere to create something out of thin air. You need the right light—the right noise level—the right feel.
Sometimes, that’s difficult to come by. And sometimes, you need to create something—because a client is waiting for a product or because you’re up against some other deadline. Deadlines can be great, right? But they can also be stressful, paralyzing, and seemingly impossible to make.
Worse still (if you’re a creative): you’re bound to find countless examples of others who you perceive to be doing better than you. They’re creating more. They simply have more talent, and you’ll never be that good. Also, how is it that they have the time and ability to make a full, healthy breakfast, work out, give attention to dogs or other pets, do a day job (??), and keep up a calligraphy practice… and take flawless photos of it all? Trust me—I have plenty of examples to go from if I want to play the comparison game, which isn’t always easy to avoid.
Over the past couple months, I’ve been attempting to rearrange my thinking around inspiration—and I want you to join me (if you’re not already on it!). Though this is a process, it feels like it’s a push in the right direction. I don’t claim to be perfect at it. I don’t claim that it’s *it*--like, the absolute right answer for everyone. Just go with me for a minute.
I’m tackling the themes of inspiration and perception of others’ success because I think they’re closely intertwined. If I feel uninspired (or if I just want to be wowed and try to pick up some inspiration), I often head to my Instagram news feed, where I know I’m following a hundred other calligraphers who post weekly, if not daily. It’s subconscious, a habit at this point.
The problem with that habit is not that I end up finding lots of pretty and super cool things other artists are doing. It’s not that other artists give me days and days’ worth of content to browse and marvel at. The problem is that’s a time suck. It’s a total hole. And if I’m spending my time in other artists’ worlds, looking at their creations—not only am I susceptible to comparison (the “thief of joy,” you know), I am NOT CREATING.
That sounds like the worst possible thing for someone who makes half her living as an artist. And it is. IT IS. Worse still is that if I’m spending my time…
- Not creating.
- Looking at everyone else’s work.
- Comparing my work to everyone else’s work.
…then I’m becoming fearful. I’m stagnating and becoming fearful that I will not create well enough.
So as an act of refusal of fear (thanks, Gaby Bernstein), I’m attempting to turn toward love instead. If half of you want to roll your eyes or stop reading right now, that’s OK—I know these seem like buzzwords and gross trendy ways to talk about life at present. But let’s go ahead and talk about what this concept means in terms of inspiration and perception of others’ success.
- First and foremost, I commit to x number of creative projects per month.
- I limit needless browsing through Instagram, my main bane. Not cutting it out completely—just being measured.
- I take time for fun art, things that make me happy.
- I create firm deadlines for client work.
- If I have no projects in the queue, I start reaching out to my people and making meet-ups. Pr ojects will undoubtedly come if the timing is right.
Do you find yourself trying to resist comparison? Do you feel like your inspiration gets snuffed out when you do compare to others and their successes? What would happen if you refocused your attention on love of self? How about if you refocused on what you love to do?
Some outstanding inspiration that’s come my way in the past couple months:
- Dr. Becca Lake (friend first, chiropractor second) at Shine Chiropractic
- A newfound curiosity for crystals and their supportive properties (partly as a result of the previous point of inspiration)
- Victoria at Bona Fide Craft in Ontario, CN (#videoinspo!!)
- Emily McDowell of Emily McDowell Studio, a generally badass chick who makes fittingly badass products
- Writing a cover letter for the first time in forever somehow led to an itch to write creatively that I haven’t felt in some time
- Christmas hand-me-downs that make me feel like I’m orbiting closer to my Grandma Maine again
- An impromptu yoga class at Peterson Holistic Services that was simply refreshing and a much-needed step out of my comfort zone
Tell me—what’s inspired you lately?? What are you creating?
Until next time~