Are you where you want to be with your creative work? Have you started working on a project or an idea and realised that what you are making and what you envision making are not on the same level? Is the vision in your mind so much better that the result right now? Are you disappointed? Wanting to chuck the idea?
Whether you are starting out on your journey as a creator, or are anywhere along your path, you will hit spots where what you’re creating might not live up to the grand idea that sprung forth fully-formed from your brain. I am going to step out on the high wire 10 stories above the pavement here, and say:
I think everyone who embarks on a journey or a life of creating has experienced those moments where their creations are not living up to their expectations and hopes. Everyone.
The not-so-secret answer? Keep going.
Make lots of work. Keep working on your craft. Create a body of work. Create a large body of work. Create an even larger body of work. Keep practicing. Accept that this is your path, and embrace it. Keep working on your ideas, keep inspiring yourself with more ideas.
There are so many things about this life, this creative life, that people don’t tell you, maybe we don’t think to tell each other. I don’t think it’s that anyone is keeping secrets, I think we stumble upon our own answers as we go. We wade through a few streams, and climb a few hills, stumble and fall a few times, and if we’re lucky we have some breakthroughs, and we keep going.
There are many times in my my life where I have wished for a training manual or at the very least one of those picture-based directional pamphlets, like you get when you purchase furniture from Ikea. But as I write that, I also realise that if someone had told me all the things I wished I had known, would I have listened? Probably not. At least not to all of them. You? Perhaps the same?
What I have learned (some of it kicking and screaming along the way) is that the only secret to getting to where I want to go is to just keep going. Your ideas may change. Your vision may shift and grow. Keep going. Your ability to express your creative idea, in whatever form, will only get better. Keep going. This is an ever changing landscape, this creating thing, and since we know that one of the few constants in life is change, accept it in your creative work, too.
Oh, and the second part of that not-so-secret answer? Don’t give up.
Think about the work that you’ve given up on in the past. I have a short to medium list myself. Think about how even after you gave up on the idea or the project, it still comes back and visits you. In dreams. In thoughts. Remember the great idea that you were so excited about but you couldn’t execute just the way you saw it in your mind’s eye, so you stopped? Yeah, that one. If it keeps returning to you, you might want to look at it again.
To get where you want to go with your creative work, to get closer to the vision that you see with your mind’s eye, you just have to work and keep working. It’s that simple.
So the work is not quite the way you want it to look, read, or be heard. Keep working. So you didn’t get the response you wanted from your partner, best friend, studio mate. Keep working. It’s going to take time, it’s going to take practice, and it’s going to take – yup, you got it – work.
This whole topic – how to get where I am going with my art work – is often on my mind. I’ve written many pieces for myself in my creative journal, and then I started working on this piece for Scoutie Girl about 10 days ago. Yesterday, when I was working on edits, a friend sent me a video with words from Ira Glass on just this topic. It’s a lovely bit of synchronicity, and Ira Glass says it all so very well.
So have a listen. Feel his words.
And then go back to your work.
Where is your vision lining up with your executions? Where is it not? Tell us your stories about how you’ve kept working.
Video from David Shyang Liu