The Vulnerable Cycle of Creation

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I am not a person who publically likes to show my vulnerability. I, like so many people, only boast about successes and major life events that make me look seamless. What I don’t share is the trial I have with every piece of art I create and every job that I do. I don’t share about my failures, whether perceived or real, because I am afraid for people to know how deeply flawed I can be.

To me, artists often have a perception of success and failure that is unrealistic. Either you 100% succeed or you fail… and if you fail, you pick apart every small fragment of that misstep until you go crazy. It’s hard to have a picture in your mind of “perfection” for your next creation and have a creation be different than that initial idea. What I create is never anywhere close to what I envision happening. That can oftentimes feel like a failure. Partial success isn’t even a reality. We can be blind to the millions of things going right for the one single thing that is going wrong. As I think about it, that is likely a true reality for many people in many circumstances. This may just be a vulnerable human condition.

It’s an odd pendulum. I am drawn like a moth to the flame to create. I hunger deeply for it. When I’m unable to create I feel a little bit dead inside. I don’t mean to over exaggerate here. I feel lifeless, like my soul is numb. When I dream of the initial idea and begin the planning phase, my soul is set on fire. I could work for 10 hours without an inkling of time passing. Soon after, I hit a wall. My creation excitement turns into anxious self-loathing and I can’t proceed. I turn into a ball of sludge on my bed and can’t create any longer. These are the times when I am grateful for deadlines, because the only thing that can get me out of the “I hate this piece” blues is a nice solid deadline. The only thing I dislike more than my art in these time is the thought of disappointing someone.

Every time I post a piece online it is like I need the validation that I am, in fact, a decent artist. The praise helps me remember that it is okay and worthwhile. It’s like seeing it through another’s eyes. I can’t begin to express how meaningful it is for me when someone receives something emotional, a love or a feeling that is connected with my work. I am always surprised, because of my trial with it.

I do recognize that this is deeply flawed. I only share about it because so many artists have shared their similar experiences with me. Self-love is a daily practice.

I am curious about what other experiences creatives have with their own creative process. Do you experience this similarly? Do you have a way you manage it? Please feel free to leave a comment with your experience. I would be grateful and overjoyed to read.

Thank you for your time <3