As creators, we live for that moment of clarity when the fog of our ideas finally clears to reveal one meaningful breakthrough. It’s the moment of inspiration, the moment when our artistic project makes sense. We see the endless potential of the idea, and our energy levels are through the roof.
And then, there’s the work.
For some people, the work is where it all falls apart. The inspiration is the big moment of excitement, while the work is… well, it’s work. It takes a lot of effort. It takes time.
Even the brilliant artists throughout history still had to put in the work. Hendrix relentlessly practiced his guitar as a child. Michelangelo painted a curved ceiling for four years in order to complete the Sistine Chapel. There are countless other examples, but you get the idea.
Probably every impatient artist has heard the phrase “enjoy the process” or “enjoy the journey as much as the destination.” It’s sound advice. Really, it is.
As a frequently impatient artist, I can also attest to how much those words frustrate me – even if I know them to be true. (Ever notice how much those two terms – “impatience” and “frustration” – go together?) The fact of the matter is that whether you enjoy the process or don’t enjoy it, art still takes time to come together.
The choice then, is yours (and mine) to make daily. Will you enjoy the process, or will you only focus on results?
Reframing the Creative Process
Art doesn’t have to be an “either / or” scenario all of the time.
There are times when the work is just work. The fourth time you’re revising that novel, you may have trouble finding ways to bring in a lot of creativity (but it is possible!).
More often, the creative process actually involves a series of several smaller “Aha!” moments. The major point of inspiration comes at the beginning of the project so that you know what it is you’re trying to create. When the actual work of creation comes along, you still find yourself facing a slew of new creative problems.
Your idea might have involved an interesting photo composition involving 53 separate elements, but you realize that the angle you really wanted won’t allow you to capture all of the elements in the photo. What now? Is the project hopelessly off the rails?
Not at all. It’s time for a smaller, less glamorous “aha” moment.
Battling through all of the obstacles that rise up along the way to finishing your project is your opportunity to display your endless creativity. Do you pull some of the elements out of your photo composition, or do you take a new angle entirely? Do you add a new character to your novel? Should you use a new instrument to make the composition sound more lively?
All of these questions are opportunities to improve your work, to create something new and unique.
Connect your moments of inspiration to make your art even grander than you imagined. Make the result of your work better by focusing on the process.
What about You?
Think about the challenges you’re facing in your current artistic project. Can you reframe the challenge? Instead of thinking about how you need to cut back or settle due to your challenges, how can you use these challenges to make your project better?
Feature image by Miguel83