What To Remember when You’re Sick Of Being an Artist
Updated: Jan 24
I often oscillate between feeling grateful and resentful that I was born a creative. Both states seem to have validity, and I don't know a single creative person who doesn't share this same internal paradox.
Yes, being creative can be wonderfully fulfilling. But it can also be categorically grim in so many respects: mentally, physically and financially. Here are some things I try to remind myself when I'm feeling like throwing in the towel and quitting creativity all together. I hope you find it useful in your creative process when you're having a doubtful time.
Stop with the Comparisons.
In the poem Desiderata by Max Ehrmann, he writes "If you compare yourself with others, you may become vain or bitter, for always there will be greater and lesser persons than yourself." This is true of looks, career, talent, and artistry. Artists tend to be ego driven; that's not a bad or a good thing, it is simply the reality. Because of this we may find it easy to slip into comparing our art or our creative process with others. But, here's the thing.
You are on a very specific path: your own. Next time you're feeling fed up with the competition or your creative insecurities, remember that the only person you should ever compare yourself to is who you were yesterday and who you want to be tomorrow.
Nothing is forever. This is just as true for feelings. We might feel down and out right now, we might feel like we're not good enough, we might be in a creative block that feels like it's never going to end.
However, while your feelings are always valid and deserve to be felt, it's important to remember that this is temporary.
Sometimes when we're really "in it" it feels like we'll be that way forever, and if you're going to feel that way forever why on earth would you want to stick with it? And the answer is because if you stick with it, your artistry and creative process will once again fuel you, nourish you and fulfil you. Be patient with yourself.
Value the Positives.
Yes, it can really suck being an artist. Maybe your career is not as stable as you want it to be, maybe you find yourself lacking direction, maybe you catch yourself feeling all things, whether they're positive or negative, very intensely. This can all be exhausting, demoralising, isolating and frustrating.
However: you are able to be moved by the world and everything in it in a specific way. You have a burning desire in the gut of your belly that screams out to express. You have the ability to move people, maybe even help people. You have a colourful, bright imagination. And most importantly, you have something to say. Those are all amazing things and sometimes it's important to remind yourself of the upside.
Maybe You Need Time Apart...
Escaping into your work isn't always healthy. Being an artist can be a source of great comfort and joy- but it can also become toxic, self medicating and obsessive. And when that comes into your life, like any other toxic entity, you absolutely should take time away from it. It can sometimes feel like we don't have any time because we have to "make it" now, if not yesterday - but, sometimes you have to screw all that and do what's best for you at this point in your life. If it's right for you, it will come back. Do not be afraid to walk away for a while.
You Need to Chill Out
Stop taking everything, including yourself, so seriously! Life is short, guys. To quote Ricky Gervais, we're all gonna die soon and there's no sequel. Sometimes, we just have to chill. There are so many more important things in life, so many things that we take for granted or don't think about when we're in a bad place creatively.
Our community, our values, the people we love, the quality of who you areas a person. This stuff matters a lot more than whether or not we're talented, successful or brilliant. Again, your feelings are always valid, but try to not let whatever artistic funk you're in cloud your perspective.