I never really thought I needed to seek out advice, but after reading some of your letters out of curiosity, I can't help but feel like it's time I sent one of my own.
Creativity seems to escape me. I've tried writing and drawing a fair bit, and despite the praise I've gotten for my work, I didn't really like the results. I'm bothered by the fact that I have to start with beginner work. I even took a short story down, which was never even finished because I simply disliked the result. Since then, I haven't been able to try anything else. Attempts at these pursuits are blocked by something and ended with frustration. It's honestly driven me to the point of depression.
I did draw once, several years ago. I was more relaxed back then and was able to focus and spend time on it. Then I lost the drawing and was never able to get back into it. Now it seems as though I simply can't relax, and that working every day is the most important thing in my life. I'm afraid of giving myself a complication, but am unsure of how exactly I can relax. I've considered several options, from incense burning (which I've heard is an inexpensive form of aromatherapy) to Zen teachings.
Is it possible that an inability to really relax is what's keeping me from sitting down long enough to practice? Could it possible be ADD? Or could it be frustration with myself for having to start from the beginning? I just want to know what this mental block is and how I can overcome it so that I can try doing the things that I want to.
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I’m right there with you on this one. You see, I’ve drawn too, even took some art courses. But when my life started going into upheaval I put it aside and now I’ve never managed to get back to it. I, like you, am also very self-critical, and when I do take a moment to put a colored pencil to paper, I despise the results and throw it out. Also like you, I work a lot and it tends to dominate my life and keep me from things I enjoy. This happened not only with drawing but also with writing. However, with writing I just decided I didn’t really enjoy it any more, especially the business end of it.
But I would like to get back to drawing. One strategy I am currently trying is to take piano lessons. You see, I’ve always wanted to play, but my parents weren’t really the type to push their kids into music, so I never took lessons as a kid. Ironically, my grandfather was a pianist, but he had a policy after failing to teach my mother never to teach family members. So, life went on and on, and, now at 48, I got myself a cheap Casio keyboard to practice on and found a great teacher.
How does this relate to drawing? Two ways: 1) it will get me back into the habit of becoming disciplined at something and practicing it every day, which can translate well into art as well; and 2) it can spur creativity, which will apply to drawing, too.
It’s really difficult to be self-disciplined, which is why formal lessons can often be helpful. You don’t have to go to an expensive college; there are many private teachers around, or sometimes there are community lessons sponsored by your city or county for adult students. When it comes to writing, you might also try joining a writers’ group. These can be great in that the members of a good group urge each other on, which can really get you to sit down at the ol’ desk and start typing.
Papabear doesn’t think, offpaw, that you have ADD. I think you are just having a tough time doing this on your own. Finding a teacher or a group of fellow artists to work with can not only inspire you to write or draw and also to boost your self-discipline, but you may be surprised to find that developing a routine of going to regular classes or meetups can reduce your stress levels. That’s because we, as humans, often find routine comforting, and also because you will feel like you are making some progress toward your goals, which will relieve anxiety that causes stress.
So, my advice would be to not go it alone anymore. Find a teacher or teachers and fellow artists and add them to your life to boost your creativity, inspiration, and discipline.
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