How to be confident in your art making. How to avoid mistakes which could or have already destroyed your creativity and learn how to put fear in its place.
I am pretty sure that we have all heard the expression “Feel the fear and do it anyway”. It is the title of an excellent book by Susan Jeffers which deals with coming to terms with our fears and indecisiveness, enabling us to understand and conquer them. It is well worth reading, in my opinion.
So, if you have always secretly wanted to create and have been too frightened, let’s try and face that fear here.
The first thing you need to do is ask yourself, why it is you don’t try that thing you want to do. Maybe you want to paint; maybe you fancy photography; you could have seen amazing embroidery or a quilt you would like to make but you have shied away from trying.
So, what is your reason? Be honest with yourself. Write it down even, but what is the reason you are not doing what your heart desires?
I can tell you that I have heard all the reasons and even use them myself, still, from time to time.
They start with I’m not good enough, I don’t know how to do it, people will laugh at me, other people are better than me, I don’t know what to (paint, photograph, stitch etc.), I don’t have time, I don’t have anywhere to work, I don’t know which materials to use, I don’t have the skills, I need to go on a course first and I can’t afford one … and the list goes on.
The reality is this:
I’m not good enough. – You haven’t tried, so how would you know?
I don’t know how to do it. – Why would you, you haven’t tried yet?
People will laugh at me. – So what? People don’t matter and those that do are more likely to be pleased for you. If not, that is not your problem. A wise person once told me that what other people think of you is none of your business. So true.
Other people are better than me. – Yes they are. They have been doing it; you haven’t even started.
I don’t know what to paint/photograph/stitch/sew. – So, find something you like and copy it. Copying other people’s work is fine if you are doing it to learn something and have no intention of selling it as your own. You are working on skills you need to learn to become better at your chosen craft.
I don’t have time. – We all have time if we really want to do something. 30 minutes gets so much done and we can all find 30 minutes in a day to do something.
I don’t have anywhere to work. – Sure you do. A kitchen table, dining room table, your back garden, the park, a coffee shop….All you need is a large bag or box to pack everything away in.
I don’t know which materials to use. – Google it (other search engines are available). You know what you like so Google the products needed.
I don’t have the skills. – This is a great one I love to challenge. When you were young you didn’t know how to walk but one day you just stood up and tried it. Having started, there was no stopping you. You practiced walking every day until you were so good at it you started to run. None of this happened overnight. You practiced. When you went to school you were taught how to read. Even the most reluctant children learn how to read and the more you practiced the better you became at reading. Sorry, I will get off my soap box now but no one is born being able to do anything but cry. The rest is practice.
I need to go on a course first. – You may decide to go on a course, but you don’t need to go on one to have a try yourself. No one needs to see your initial efforts. You don’t have to share them. However, I would encourage you not to throw them away. The more you do something the better you become at it and having your initial pieces to refer back to will help you to see how far your work has improved.
I can’t afford one (a course). – You don’t need to go on a course. YouTube is littered with people sharing their skills on how to do all manner of things, so watch them and then have a go yourself.
Most artists want to sell their work. The validation of making a sale feels amazing the first time it happens but most artists misunderstand that once they start selling their art there are many business hoops which they need to jump through.
Oh, and Van Gogh only sold one painting in his lifetime (or, at least, that is the common belief) so if you don’t sell it doesn’t mean that you are rubbish at it.
Just to address the fear element here. I am not for one moment suggesting that you should stop being fearful of things. We need fear as human beings to be able to survive in this life. If you were to throw away fear completely you would be jumping in front of moving cars and that would not be a good ending for you.
However, while we all need it, fear doesn’t need to take over and it shouldn’t be in charge of our lives. Recognise fear and self-limiting beliefs for what they really are, necessary but not in control.
We all have something to offer. Even from the very first steps you take into your creative journey, you have something to give that no one else can and that is you. In every piece you create there will be a piece of who you are in it. A reflection of who you are. You are wonderful and unique. You have something of value to share and what you produce will make someone happy. Even if that is just one person, then it’s worth it.
So, to get to the point where you are happy to share that piece of you, you need to practice your craft and, in doing so, you will find that your confidence grows. This circle of practice and self confidence go hand in hand. They are on your side and will have your back in that battle with fear.
Once you realise this and the value you have to offer, your confidence will grow and that will help you to move further. You will find it easier to take risks; your dreams will start, slowly, to become a reality; and in time you will find you have more control over your life and not just in your creative field.
Fear will always be there, but instead of letting fear take over ask it to sit at the table with you, and acknowledge that it has a place in your life but it is not in charge and it doesn’t get to decide what you do.
And these days I am practicing and experimenting everyday and still have years of fun to explore.