As I am teaching myself to work creatively, I have come to realise that part of my process is to go through a period of time when I am unhappy with what I produce. I often think of it as a period of chaos or like walking through a Chaos Jungle.
Quite often nothing I do whilst working through this chaos makes me entirely happy. It is more than the usual analysis of my work to see where I can improve. It feels like something inside me is trying to break out but I just don't know what. No analogies to the films Alien or the Thing please, I need to sleep at night!
But what I have found from working at this for a few years now is that these periods of making things that I don't like usually come just before I make some sort of a breakthrough in my skill level or in my understanding of a particular aspect of my practice.
You may very well have found this happening to you too, but perhaps you haven't recognised it? Or perhaps you have and felt that it was just something you alone went through? Or maybe you are fully in touch with this part of your creativity, in which case I congratulate you wholeheartedly on being so well attuned to yourself, well done!
Whatever the case, don't worry – going through a period of chaos before a breakthrough is not an uncommon part of the creative cycle.
In fact, rejoice! You are on the precipice of a new aspect of your creative life!
Unfortunately, there is no time frame for this period and you could be on the precipice looking out to your future Land Of Creative Joy for the next 10 minutes or for several years to come. But, hey, it will be worth it!
How Do You Get Through The Chaos Jungle?
1. Be kind to yourself! Foremost in this period of chaotic unknown is to acknowledge the self-doubt but don't allow it to take hold of you. So don't believe it. OK it is there, it is an aspect of you but it does not define you. This is important! Self-doubt is CRIPPLING and will stop you from reaching your next level, whatever that level is.
You may have your own coping mechanisms for self-doubt but for me personally I have found that I can not ignore it – telling it to shut up doesn't make it go away, it just makes it worse. It has taken me a while to get to this point but I have come to realise that I need to recognise the self-doubt, acknowledge it, then reason with it, explain to it why it is wrong, give it examples of how its view of the world is somewhat skewed.
It takes constant practise not to give in to self-doubt and there are no easy fixes for this one, I'm afraid, but you need to try because the next tip to making it through the jungle of creative chaos (sounds like an interesting holiday resort!) is:
2. Don't give up. Work through it however long it takes. Turn up at your workdesk and work, work, work work! If you want to jump off that precipice into your creative future, then do something towards it every day. Whatever your creative thing is, from art journaling to cardmaking, get something made, or at least partly made, every day even if you only have 10 minutes to spare.
3. Talk about it! Don't bottle it up inside. One thing about working as a creative, particularly a freelance one, is that you are often working on your own. This is where having someone you trust, who can understand the ups and downs, to talk to is invaluable. So grab a coffee, tea, glass of wine or whatever your favourite tipple is and talk, email, message your arty, crafty or other trusty friends and loved ones. No doubt they have been through it too.
There are times when it is easy and there are times when it is most definitely not but I can tell you, here and now that
YOU can do it!
But why did it take me so long to write this blog post, what was my dilemma?
Well, I am going through my own personal Chaos Jungle right now, I bought a packed lunch, I might be here some time. But as an Artist, Crafter, Blogger (it is in my bio, it must be true), there is a constant pressure to provide quality content, beautiful things, or at least something inspirational that you as my reader will want to have a go at even if you don't like how I did it.
But this pressure to make beautiful things is even harder when you are traipsing through the Chaos Jungle. So as part of my being kind to myself strategy, I am owning up to the chaos, I'm embracing it and revelling in it and if you are going through a similar thing I want you to do the same.
Come with me on this trip and put our trust in the fact that on the other side there is a breakthrough to Creative Joy!
Please do feel free to share any thoughts you have on Chaos Jungles or the land of Creative Joy, they are all welcome.
But please do not feel you need to give me an ego boost or leave positive comments about my work, I'm embracing my trip through the jungle. I just wanted to put to words something that many of us go through in the hope that it might help you, either now or at some later point, if you feel a bit lost and aren't sure why!
Catch you later Art-inators