This weekend was all about having faith in the creative process. Something I am not very good at.
Not unlike every other year I am behind in the concept, design and execution of my 2012 Christmas card. And as if that weren’t enough stress, I have upped the ante and given myself quite the challenge this year.
I’ve had this idea brewing for quite sometime now, but in typical me fashion hadn’t put pen to paper until very recently for fear that this great idea in my head would not stand up once it became a reality. Better to keep the idea inside for as long as possible, so as to convince myself I’m actually good at this stuff.
The truth is, having what you think is a good idea swim around in your head is only phase one of the creative process. The sole purpose of this phase is to get you to your work space to begin, so of course everything seems amazing. Then you start working and everything changes.
My personal process starts like this: Get amazing, one of a kind idea. Start sketching amazing one of a kind idea and immediately realize idea is neither amazing nor one of a kind. Question your sanity for even trying to be an illustrator in the first place. Consider apologizing to your parents for wasting their hard earned money on a liberal arts education that has proven to be useless. Realize your 30th birthday is just around the corner and consider all of the things you have not accomplished that you thought you would have mastered by age 30. Snap at anyone that comes near you, because obviously it’s their energy that is sucking the amazingness out of your idea. Maybe cry. Give up. Go to bed.
That was Saturday.
Sunday was more positive. I woke up eager to get back at it. A surge of positive energy appears out of nowhere. I get back to my work space, search the ground for my discarded sketch book from my “who am I kidding” moment the previous night and open it up. Without fail things look a little different. There is still a ton of work to be done, but those 8 hours of separation always do the trick. You need answers? Go away for a little while. Let your brain rest. Stop thinking so hard.
This works every time. And Sunday morning was no different. I got the big answers I thought didn’t exist Saturday night, after about an hour Sunday morning. The trouble is, knowing this process like the back of my hand – enough to be able to write about it the way I am right now – brings no relief in the moment. I can never convince myself this frustration and this lack of trust in myself is part of what makes the end result so satisfying. Don’t leave it. Don’t give up. Instead I convince myself this is it…this is the moment I realize I’m not made for this. I’m just not good enough.
I am getting better though. The moments after re – falling in love with my idea Sunday morning were spent doing a little dance and reminding myself I’m not out of the woods yet. There are a few bad phases awaiting my arrival and when I get there I have to remember this moment of happiness and have faith in this process.
The next nasty phase didn’t take too long to appear. Though I was expecting it this time. It’s the phase that comes after you spend all day in your high, only to re think your whole idea out of nowhere. Just as the positive energy surge comes out of nowhere the negative one does the same. But instead of throwing my book on the ground and re thinking my identity, I am making the conscious choice to breath and have faith in my process.
I’ll see you tomorrow, Christmas card. It ain’t over til it’s over.