Why I Never Sketch (and that's a problem)

Creativity Making Art Perfectionism

I'm an artist. You'd think I like to get messy, explore tons of ideas, sketch wildly, make / fail / repeat...well, I don't.

The reason? I am terrified to fail. That could be as simple as getting paint all over the floor (I'm a bit of a neat freak) to avoiding a new style of painting because I'm not certain how it will turn out.

This is a huge hinderance to creativity and it's been bothering me lately. The last few times I sat down to create, my mind flooded with thoughts that ruined the moment and resulted in a creative block. Thoughts like:

What will people think of this? Will this piece sell? Should I use colors that other people like? Will this fit my brand? Will I get a lot of likes on Insta?

These types of thoughts really should not matter but they keep interrupting my flow. Through therapy, I've learned that I'm a narcissist who loves external validation and believes in an all-or-nothing mentality. It's no surprise that I struggle with the in-betweens of being creative – the messy sketching, the throwing away of canvases, the mistakes and failures. Mistakes are highly negative to me but I recently read a line in a self help book that made me think again. It went something like this (I paraphrase):

Mistakes are life lessons. In this way, they are even more important and impactful than life's successes.

I have never looked at mistakes this way and as a result, I've avoided making them whenever possible. That means I've avoided exploring, one of the key parts of any creative process. It's not good! I can feel it deep in my soul, too. I feel the restrictions in my head, closing in on me as I set out to paint a blank canvas. 

To combat these evil thoughts, I've decided to start sketching through the 100 Day Project, which kicks off January 31st. For 100 days, I will sketch something in a sketchbook. Anything in the sketchbook is off limits for profit – I cannot sell any of it. Additionally, I will only post some of the entries on social media (instead of all of them). Profit and social media validation are two big "evils" for me so I'm eliminating them from the equation altogether.

You're probably wondering why an artist would choose sketching as a project. Sketching is a vital part of any artist's process and for me, it's missing entirely. I used to sketch as a kid because I had less fear then. Now, I honestly consider sketching a waste of time. A waste because it's for no one but me and I shouldn't do things that I'll only see. Because if only I see them, then there's no room for my two evils, external validation and profit.

I cringe reading that but I truly think that way! I am able to recognize that it's a horrible, low way to think of art and of myself. Time to change some old patterns and stale thoughts! I'm looking forward to seeing what comes from the simple act of sketching with no plan and for no one but me. Maybe I'll develop new ideas! Or, maybe I'll have days where I hate what I've made. Those days will be hard for me but HOPEFULLY I'll learn that the uncomfortable feelings are temporary and part of growth.

I'll keep you posted here and there on the blog and Instagram, but not daily. If you want to follow the parts of my project that I choose to share, search the hashtag #JustDoItPonno on Insta.

Thanks for listening / reading. I've gotta know, do you struggle with this too?

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