How to Enjoy Your Creativity & Overcome Your Fear of Failure
The fear of failure is common among artists. It can cripple your progress and make you feel stuck. Fear can hinder your ability to master your craft and make you hesitant to draw. You might think...
My art is not good enough!
Most artists feel tied to their work and output. It becomes a part of their identities.
We often say that...
"I am an artist."
"Art is an important part of my life."
Some of us might feel like failures when our drawings don't turn out how we imagined them. Or when our skills don't match the level of beauty we aspire to create.
Every artist that I have spoken to has felt this way at some point.
The dread of creating another bad drawing can creep into your practice. You might start to fear failure, leading to procrastination or not sharing your work.
For some people, this sense of dread can become so overwhelming that they give up on creating art altogether. Or it might manifest as an art block.
It can start to feel like...
"My art is not good enough. Therefore, I'm not good enough."
Fundamentally, this fear stems from shame.
So, what do we do to protect our egos? We choose the safer approach to our art to avoid these uneasy feelings. It might look like continuing to practise the same methods repeatedly. Use the same materials that we are comfortable with. Practising the same techniques we know will get us a good drawing. Share drawings we know will get us the praise and adoration we long for.
However, our art can stagnate when we choose an easy path. The only way to keep growing is to challenge yourself. It won't be comfortable, but it's certainly more rewarding.
Here are four tips for those who feel trapped in these feelings of hopelessness:
An essential part of overcoming failure is developing a new perspective. Instead of seeing a lousy drawing as an absolute disaster, look at it as an opportunity to learn and grow. What did this 'bad' artwork teach you? How can you improve your next drawing with the lessons learnt in this piece of work?
Our inner critic can be a foe or friend. You can discount your inner critic and carry on sketching, but you might miss a chance to learn valuable lessons. Or you could show it some consideration and see its remarks as a learning moment rather than an insult.
Sometimes people focus so hard on not failing that they don't even try. I have often caught myself frozen in space when I feel a drawing is not working out how I wanted it to. In time, I have learnt to stop seeing my 'successes' and 'failures' in black and white and developed a growth mindset.
Remember to view failure as a part of learning. Try to embrace learning new skills and the challenges it brings. Even the artists you respect started with little talent but grew themselves through persistence and hard work.
In a growth mindset, challenges are exciting rather than threatening. So rather than thinking, oh, I'm going to reveal my weaknesses, you say, wow, here's a chance to grow.
- Carol S. Dweck
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Plan for failure
Feeling fear and doubt is a part of the artistic process. If you never tried anything new, you could stay safe. But there's no fun in that!
Your sketchbook is the perfect place to experiment and try new things – plan time to 'fail' in your sketchbook. Try a new media. Attempt not to use an eraser. Try a subject that you usually don't endeavour. Learn a new artistic skill, such as the complex subject of perspective.
Take Time to Reflect
Sometimes, no matter what you do, you struggle to create art. You feel creatively blocked! To combat this feeling, take some time off. Spend some time doing other creative activities such as craft making, writing, journaling or learning an instrument.
During your break, journal about what got you into making art. Try to find that original spark that made you fall in love with art. Go back and look at the artists that inspired you to become one yourself.
In my late 20's, I felt creatively stuck. So I took up other hobbies and did not draw for a few years. I told myself that I was too busy to sketch. As time passed, I missed drawing so much! Eventually, I started to sketch again. Drawing felt like a compulsion because it was the missing part of my life.
Taking a break can be a wonderful reminder that falling out of love with your art because of fear or uncertainity doesn't always last. It could return refreshed, compelling, and reinvigorated.
Being courageous in your artistic practice can feel shaky, scary and vulnerable. But it's the only way we grow in our work.
It's only in retrospect that we get to enjoy the fruits of our courageous experiments. Feelings of doubt, fear and uncertainty prove that you deeply care about your art. And what a wonderful feeling that is!
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