I’m sure that you’ve found yourself in a situation where you’re working on an exciting creative project, and then one of the five creativity killers below strikes. From discouraging words to unexpected problems to a hectic schedule, there are lots of things that can throw off your creative equilibrium. If you can relate, read on!
1. Discouraging Words
Most people — myself included — are eager to please, and when it’s clear that someone isn’t happy with your work, it can be vastly disappointing. Due to the public nature of this blog, I have, of course, seen my share of discouraging words! For example, someone once accidentally responded to a blog post email of mine — a mail art tutorial, I think — when she actually meant to forward it to a friend. In the email, she wrote something like, “Her calligraphy isn’t up to our standards, but sometimes she has some okay ideas like this tutorial.”
That remark is a very small example compared to other discouraging words that I have heard of. For example, my friend Noel, who is a graphic designer, lives and breathes art. You can imagine how hurt she was, then, when a high school art teacher told her she would never succeed in a creative field. He flat-out told said that she had no future in art or design … and yet, last year she won an American Advertising Federation Silver ADDY for illustration series and direct mail marketing design. She is also the president of AIGA (American Institute of Graphic Arts) in Colorado Springs.
How to Overcome Discouraging Words:
I have to share with you the most amazing quote that I’ve ever heard. At university, I had a friend named Titi (say: “Tee Tee”). One day, she told me about a disagreement she’d had with someone. She ended the story with this gem: “And you know, Lindsey, that’s when I realized: you just can’t be everyone’s cup of Titi.”
There are so many people in the world with so many different tastes! You can’t please everyone, and it is of utmost importance to remember that, regardless of who it is you haven’t pleased. So, next time anyone says something discouraging about a project or a skill of yours, remember: “You just can’t be everyone’s cup of Titi.”
2. Projects That Don’t Turn Out As You’d Hoped
We hold ourselves to very high standards, so when projects don’t turn out magazine-worthy, it’s easy to get frustrated. You might think, “You know what, I’m just not good at this,” and give up. Before you throw in the towel, though, remember that no one churns out perfect work all the time. I, personally, have created many ink-spattered, juvenile-looking projects with strange color schemes. Those projects never kept me from picking up a writing utensil or paintbrush the next day!
How to Overcome Botched Projects:
First of all, remember that a less-than-awesome project doesn’t define you as a creator. No matter how good someone is at something, there will always be off days! Then, pick up your supplies and try again. Every botched project is a gift, after all: it shows you what not to do! So, when you go to make the project the second time around, implement what you learned during your first attempt. If you’re new to the techniques used for the project you messed up on, remember that everyone starts somewhere. If your results don’t look as polished as the ones you’ve seen on social media, don’t worry about it. If you keep working at the proper techniques, you’ll get there!
3. Not Having Specific Supplies
Not having the funds or the geographic location to get your hands on certain supplies can be very discouraging. Still, you can’t let that keep you from pursuing projects or skills that you think you might enjoy.
How to Overcome Not Having Specific Supplies:
We are actually at our most creative when we have to improvise. You can always find a workaround to get ideal results, and you will probably create a project variation that you like better than the original! For example, if you want to create brush pen calligraphy but you don’t have brush pens, you can use regular broad-tipped markers. No dip pen? Make faux calligraphy. From using crayons to make wax seals to DIYing your own envelope liners with scrap paper, there’s almost always a workaround!
4. Unexpected Problems
No matter what kind of project you choose to take on, there are always things that can go wrong. From paint spills to calligraphy misspellings to bleeding ink, there are lots of variables that can sabotage a project.
How to Overcome Unexpected Problems:
Immediately after the project sabotage occurs, you’ll probably feel a lot of frustration. It’s maddening to spend time and effort on something, only to have it be ruined by an external force like spilled ink! First, I’d take some time to cool off if you can. Try to get at least a few hours of distance from the project. Then, see if there’s a way to fix the project. If there isn’t, take a deep breath and start re-doing it. The key to dealing with unexpected problems is patience and perseverance!
5. A Hectic Schedule
Lack of time is perhaps the strongest creativity killer. If you’ve got a lot on your plate, painting a masterpiece or writing long lines of calligraphy probably doesn’t sound so appealing.
How to Overcome a Hectic Schedule:
If you’re feeling stressed, doing something creative can help you to relax! Rather than add stress to your day, the project should take away stress. With that in mind, I’d recommend creating short projects that require a modest amount of time and energy. The short projects could add up to something bigger — like working in a sketchbook journal — or they could be a one-time thing, like a quick piece of envelope art. Don’t put pressure on yourself to do something creative every day. When creativity becomes something that exhausts rather than rejuvenates you, that’s a problem! Just take it easy, and fit in projects whenever you can and want to.
This post had to be a little vague by nature because “creativity” means different things to different people. The point of writing it, however, is to let you know that everyone deals with roadblocks! If you have any tips, input, or questions, I’d love to hear from you in the comments. What was the latest creativity killer that you encountered, and how did you deal with it?
Thanks very much for reading TPK, and enjoy the rest of your day!