Surprising Myself

Surprising Myself

As an artist or creative person, what are the worries that keep you up at night?

For me, it changes like the wind. Many nights I go to bed fulfilled. Some nights my brain won’t shut off with ideas. Other nights I tell myself I’ll never make anything ever again. My brain is very dramatic.

For the last year I have been working on a series that I’ve only shown a few people. That means that the work I have been showing isn’t necessarily my best. It isn’t going in my new exhibition. It has been the in between work. It has been what has kept me fulfilled in the days in between creating for my other project. I have loved it, but I have also felt stagnant within it. It was as if I was spending all of my creative energy on the other project, so anything I did in between didn’t have that same fire.

I finished that series at the end of September and took some time to myself. I wasn’t creating as much and I was just letting myself breathe. In those breaths that I took, I wondered if I would never create again. That old dramatic brain of mine starting to question if my “usual” style was getting too stale, and I started to agree. At the same time, I didn’t feel motivated to make something new. Busy-ness, that annoying, glorified syndrome. I took on too much and I didn’t feel I could afford to spend time thinking about concepts, let alone new visuals that would satisfy my adventure-heart.

Instead, I picked up my camera only when it called to me. I put no pressure on myself, as we do too often as artists, and I created with no preconceived notions of what it would end up like. That lead to a lot of failed photo shoots and a lot of laughing at myself at dawn with a cactus stuck in my foot, but that’s another story.

And then something happened. All of that breathing and failing and laughing paid off. When I started photography I felt this pressure to create. I created every day and a lot of it was terrible, and I felt burnt out eventually. Now my motto is to create when I am compelled. To work at it, to push myself, but never to expect brilliance.

How did it pay off? I surprised myself. I was trying and failing for an hour at making origami so I took what I had and ran to my bedroom and shot this image. To you, it might seem like nothing. It might seem like everything else I’ve done. Or it might seem so different that it just isn’t appealing. But for me, it was just different enough. It was cleaner, more graphic, and simpler. It was just what my over-worked brain needed to see and to create.

I hope that you take serious time to nurture your creativity. It is not something that should be pushed and prodded and made to feel belittled if something you do isn’t the greatest. Let’s face it – few things we do in our life will be worthy of living on and on in history. Let your creativity rest. Let it be born anew. Let it surprise you. Let yourself be lead not by the call of greatness but by the greatness of unrestrained creativity, for that is what will explode in your chest like a million stars and lift you to your highest level.

How do you stay inspired?

2 thoughts on “Surprising Myself

  1. my fear is…………..
    what it not picking it up for MONTHS turns into disaster for my business and heart….i really cannot fathom this next phase of life…i really can’t…

    i don’t know what it looks like.
    i just know that i have to be me….

  2. That is a great post, with a lot of wisdom. 🙂
    MY brain is always saying “You could be doing something more useful with your time” Or “Do you really want people to see this? It’s not very good at all!” I try to tell myself not to listen, but that can be very hard to do at times.
    Thank you so much for this post, it makes me (and I sure others) feel so much better, that it isn’t just us.

    I also need to hear that cactus story! 🙂

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