And my most candid post about my own experience!
I am a full time artist and I’ve been drawing and making art pretty much as long as I can remember myself. But somewhere along the way, my inner creative self started developing anxieties and insecurities that were piling up like layers, wrapping me up in a cocoon that eventually became my prison. These layer of insecurities consisted of rejections, disapprovals, ignorance, doubt, fear, stress, and eventually a most terrifying layer started slowly but surely wrapping its webs around me – depression. That’s when things get scary. Scary in a way that at times I wanted to quit art to escape it. Because why bother fighting and running in circles? I felt absolutely worthless comparing myself to others who seemed to have it all figured out. Of course, I had my good moments when art started selling for a short while or I got a new commission, but most of the time I was on my way down, falling back into the arms of all these layers of my worst fears. I never admitted it to anyone, I played it cool. I wanted to seem like I’m alright, like I’m my normal self and it’s a beautiful life to live as an artist, I have it under control and I am normal just like everyone else. Again, this was because of another layer of fear, fear of looking ridiculous, fear of looking unprofessional, fear of being judged for not being able to get myself out of this trap. I heard comment’s like “get yourself together already”, or “grow up” or “stop thinking about and it will go away”. And this only added another layer – “guilt”. I started thinking what’s wrong with me that I can’t handle myself, why I can’t fix this? But I was only destroying myself, my relationship with the ones around my, my creativity… The moments of depression started getting longer and much harder to handle or at least cover up. On my good days I drew and painted as much as I could, but these days were getting shorter… I felt my biggest guilt – guilt for failing my creative voice.
You don’t just get to leap from bright moment to bright moment… Holding yourself together through all the phases of creation is where the real work lies.Elizabeth Gilbert “Big Magic”
I’ve heard from a lot of artists that it’s all normal, we all go though that, it’s a part of creative process. So prepare yourself for many more of these layers and go though this rollercoaster because otherwise your art doesn’t meant shit! It’s a “one long, lovely suicide” according to Oscar Wilde.
In order to create you have to suffer! But my answer was NO! I’ve suffered enough! There has to be another way! A painless one!
This year I finally set it as my new year resolution: to find my inner peace. Inner peace that will not depend on any outside factors, peace that will let me peel of those scary layers of my cocoon and let me live a happy life in tune with my creativity. I have to take care of my creative voice because it’s all I have left. It’s all that drives me and supports me through all of my ups and downs. I can’t fail, because I don’t want to let my fears win over me and destroy me and my future.
And that is when I went on Amazon and simply started looking for books on creativity and inspiration. I felt that if only I could feed my creative voice a bit more it will give me the strength to break through. On one of the first pages I found “Big Magic: Creative living beyond fear” with over 2000 reviews. I didn’t have any hight expectations, but I thought it would be a good first step. Thanks to Amazon’s 2-day shipping I got my hands on it in no time. I read it in three days. I wanted to quote every page, I was so hungry for all Elizabeth was saying, I was so ready to apply it to my life. I underlined it, I wrote notes in my sketchbook, I repeated it to myself over and over again.
I am going to spend as much time as I can creating delightful things out of existence, because that’s what brings me awake and that’s what brings me alive.Elizabeth Gilbert “Big Magic”
Of course we all go though our own struggles, but Elizabeth seems to cover so thoroughly just about every one of them, that you see yourself in every example. She is incredibly open about her experiences and brings a ton of research in showing you all the examples of famous artists’ lives and their struggles and how they handled it. How not care about failures. How not to care whether your ideas are big or small. How not to care about the circumstances and always find time for your art. How not to care about critics. How not to care about fear. How not to give up. Because yes, we all go though these struggles, but that’s not a reason to let them ruin your life. Creativity can be a blessing, regardless of what the critics say about your art, regardless of whether it sells or not, regardless of whether your success is big enough for your liking. And most importantly, to keep on creating no matter what. Because your creative calling is what’s gonna save you.
But if your calling is to make things, then you still have to make things in order to live out your highest creative potential – and also in order to remain sane.Elizabeth Gilbert “Big Magic”
One of the most important points that I picked up is not taking it too hard on your creativity and your ideas. Don’t expect them to be big, don’t expect them to pay the bills and don’t put the weight of your stress on their delicate shoulders. Treasure every smallest spark of inspiration and show up for it. It’s ok if your art doesn’t pay the rent, it’s ok if you have’t had a lot of sales recently. It’s doesn’t make you a failure as an individual. Just keep showing up for your creativity. Because as creatives we all that the most important for us is to simply create.
Don’t compare yourself to others. Creative life is a gamble. Sometimes you win, sometimes you lose. Sometimes you stay in one spot for many years. Your biggest breakthrough could still be ahead of you. And the ones that are already on top were just the ones that showed up for every opportunity and took on every idea their creativity threw on them, and just by a simple coincidence they got a winning ticket. Yes, hard work and experience do matter, but simple persistence sometimes matters even more.
One really interesting point was the way some creatives see their ideas. Have you ever had a feeling as if someone created what seems to feel like yours? Well, Elizabeth provides an interesting hypothesis. All ideas are their own beings that travel through the universe looking for a right creative human to manifest it. Interesting, isn’t it? At first, I thought it seemed a bit silly, but then I remembered all the times when my ideas seemed to come out of nowhere or to come and leave without ever coming back, only to be brought to life by someone else. And you know what? It somehow helped me. I separated myself from my ideas, and no longer had the wight on my shoulders. I am me. And I don’t have to go crazy over my creativity. I don’t have to put all the layers of fear and stress upon myself. I am learning not to take any criticism personally either. Because I work in collaboration with my creative forces, and it’s ok if things go wrong, it’s ok if my ideas didn’t show up that day as long as I did and I now don’t have to feel guilty.
I can continue quoting all the paragraphs from this book, but I highly encourage you to read it for yourself because you will pick up your own points and find your own cure. It’s not an instant fix, it’s definitely a continuous journey, but I can already feel that this change of direction is making me heal. I can already feel a thousand pounds lighter and ten feet taller, because I’m not restrained by the layers of my cocoon anymore, though I have yet to peel off some more.
You can also watch Elizabeth Gilbert’s amazing TEDTalk on creativity on YouTube where she talks about some of these issues.
Most importantly, this is the book that encouraged me to start a community of creatives #CONTENTEDCREATIVES. To bring the artists of all fields together and support each other through all the ups and down of a creative life and set ourselves on a path of breaking free from our cocoons for the sake of our free and creative future, for the sake of our own sanity.
You can find us on Facebook https://www.facebook.com/contentedcreatives
I hope you found this review helpful. It was incredibly hard to open up publicly about my insecurities, but I really want to encourage others to admit to themselves if they are going through any sort of suffering and that there is a better way to create amazing things and live a creative life.
Thank you for reading this post! Please feel free to share your experiences in the comment section below or share any books that you found inspiring and helpful! Let’s share our tips and offer each other a helping hand!