I recently started to ponder about creative content in 2021. Going further, I thought about my own creative process. And a question that continued to circulate in my head has been, “How did I ever get anything done in school?” Knee-jerk reaction? Deadlines. Grading systems. Fear of failure. But against all that was something a bit more subtle in my creative process. My ability to start and finish something came with time and focus.
So often I feel like we live in an whirlwind of “pics or it didn’t happen” or “have you monetized yet?” We don’t want to feel like failures by not capturing our up moments (or what society deems is up) or being exploited. As someone who considers themself a creative person, I’m constantly stating so behind a mask. There is a thin veil in front of my eyes that makes me constantly say, “You’re a fraud. You haven’t created something in weeks!” Everything I achieved gone in moments. Suddenly I’m a liar for saying I’m a creative because I’m not doing it at that exact moment. Or I don’t have the nicest staged pictures to prove it. It’s almost like my brain can’t settle down enough to accept what we’ve accomplished because before I can applaud the moment, someone else has had that moment several times over. And I’m just not moving fast enough.
I had thought back to my favorite class growing up: Art. You work a piece for about an hour. Come back to it the next day and work it for an hour again. And then you just keep doing that for a semester until you have something. Full stop. You have something. Maybe it isn’t complete. Maybe it isn’t the best. Maybe it should be hung in a gallery or tossed in the trash. But you have something. A slow, constant work manifested itself into something.
But in today’s work, every hour not spent with some form of gratification seems as if a waste. “You spent time drawing today? Did you film it? Did you sell it? Is someone going to pay for it?” thoughts spew out of other’s mouths until eventually they become your own thoughts. It’s tragic honestly. Bills do not stop because you need to pace yourself. I get it. But somewhere between childhood and adulthood I feel like we’ve fallen out of understanding with time. I used to be excited to share my work. Now I’m too far behind the latest trend by the time it’s complete that only a handful of people care to see my random, poorly lit creation.
I’m currently struggling with working a project for no more than the sheer enjoyment in creating. Writing a book takes time. Perfecting your hand at drawing or calligraphy, takes time. I practice both everyday. I want to better learn how I can pace myself and be comfortable that, well, nothing gratuitous is coming.
I often go in museums and hear about how long it had taken an artist to complete some work of theirs. And yes, they were getting paid. But the matter that creative endeavors take time and practice is something I feel myself and so many other creatives I know let slip from us. I want to make things slower. Is that even possible in the digital age? I’m not sure… but by the end of my process I’ll have something.
I’ve tried using planners, apps, anything to help me better realize that everything is in smaller pieces. I mean, that’s sketching 101, right? I’ve also realized that everything has a price tag. Assuming you can just sit at home and pace yourself all day is unrealistic for most. However, against all that I get 24 hours in a day, and I don’t need to have it all resolved in that 24. I need to understand that it is absolutely okay that things take time. I’m not falling behind, failing, or mismanaging. Creative things take time. And whether good or bad, I wonder if the artists of yesterday think things are quite frankly, moving too damn fast.