I have this problem that I think up great ideas for drawings or art projects but then never get around to actually doing them. Or maybe I start them but don’t complete them. I think this comes from a fear of finishing things and not getting them absolutely right. Like if I don’t try to finish something I don’t have to worry about getting it wrong. The problem is I actually cause myself more anxiety by not finishing things. Whatismore I don’t like to show things to people because I’m afraid that they might not find them perfect. But a while ago I watched this video by vlogger Hank Green:
Which led me to watch the video he was responding to, by Charlie McDonnell:
Charlie ended up following his video by making a video every day for a week, in order to overcome his fear. The next year Hank decided to create a video every day in April, I’m not sure if it was in a similar vein, but it made a similar point.
And so in July, a little while after my birthday, I thought, why don’t I just do it? Why don’t I make something every day in August, and post the photos to twitter and facebook. I hoped that it would teach me to be less precious about things and to just do them to the best of my abilities and then get on with other things. And so that’s what I did. For a month I finished old projects, did drawings I’d be planning, and tried out new things I hadn’t even contemplated before that month. You can see the full month of photos on my twitter feed @jacqueshands. Below are some of my favourites…
What I learnt that month has quickly slipped away. I didn’t even write this blog until the end of September. So I thought I would sit down and think about what happened. This is what I learnt:
1). I don’t need to spend ages tweaking and changing things, sometimes they are 99% right half way through. Sometimes they need a second glance the next day, but only some of the time.
2). I always have the energy to start something and complete it. Me thinking I don’t have the energy is me just being aware that the task ahead of me is going to be very difficult. I can overcome this.
3). I thought this before, but I have learnt that I really do thrive on structure. When September started I decided to line up a few more projects but didn’t put any time constraints on myself, thinking I would get things done without the absolute pressure I had in August. I’ve haven’t even started these other projects. At first it was overconfidence from knowing that I can get things done, but now I’m learning that even though I’ve vanquished my fear and the thought that I don’t have enough energy, it’s important that I learn some self-discipline.
4). Not to let things hang around unfinished. I lose interest in them very quickly. And then it becomes a chore to finish them. Whatismore is that I let some ideas or projects hang around for ages and ultimately they might not even end up being that good. Not because I haven’t done a good job, but because the idea didn’t really work out. Whereas sometimes I might just get some divine inspiration and will think up and make something in a day that’s more brilliant than anything I took months thinking about and weeks planning.
5). I need to make things that make me happy. A lot of people were very supportive on facebook throughout August. But ultimately my lasting impression is that I made some things that I really like and am ready to hang on my wall. So even though I got the compliments some part of me probably craved, liking those things myself seemed all that mattered in the end. And as it was I realised I was trying to impress some people who barely batted an eyelid, so making things for myself seems like a good idea.
It’s 11th November now, and I’ve just got around to editing and posting this.
Finally editing this post seems indicative of my frame of mind. Since the summer I’ve been putting a lot of energy into volunteering for a local museum, too much energy. Energy which didn’t go anywhere or even really get appreciated. The other day I ran a drawing event to which only one person came. And it was while I sat there, drawing in my pad, that I realised the absolute tragic irony of the situation. I hadn’t been able to draw for weeks because I had been so busy working on events to which very few people came. And because no one came, and I was without a purpose, I finally had time to draw. It would have been very easy to have had an angry moment, and feel sorry for myself. But the fact is that I had done what I’d done a lot of in my life. Instead of focussing on my own creative impulses, I’d given in to other people’s. Because it was easier that way. I don’t think I should do that anymore. I’ve spent many moments of my life writing for other people, or designing things for other people, only for these things to be dismissed by their apparent apathy.
Me, philosophising about creativity might seem shallow and unimportant to you. But it’s important to me. All I’ve ever wanted to do is be a filmmaker. I have a BA, MA, and PgCert in film subjects. I have the education, and I also have the imagination and the passion. But the fear has held me back. I lost my twenties to bad health, and my desire to be a filmmaker is the lifeboat that I have clung to for much of this time. Because when you want something that badly it sees you through a lot.
I don’t want to not be a filmmaker anymore. I don’t want to be a martyr to other people’s ideas for me. I have to change.