1/10/2016: Noise

Whenever I come up with an idea, the very beginning of the creative process feels so pure. It’s all confidence and excitement and possibilities. As I develop the idea, though, inevitably there comes a point where the bold confidence of that first phase begins to crack, and the sturdiness — the certainty — of that initial idea begins to slowly erode. That’s when the noise starts to creep in. The voices of doubt elbow their way into the conversation in my head.

That point in this daily project came earlier today. Is this even good? Am I doing the work justice? Am I communicating my vision right? Doubt after doubt poured into my head and I kept butting up against these mental blocks with every stroke I attempted to paint. That’s when I asked myself where all that noise was coming from and realized it all came down to one source: comparison. All those tiny cracks in confidence were because I was comparing my work to other artists I admire, or comparing my work to my own expectations of taste (see: Ira Glass and “The Gap”), or comparing my work to some future evolutionary stage that doesn’t even exist yet.

Once I was able to identify where this wall was coming from, I took a deep breath, closed my eyes, and I imagined myself lowering the volume on the track of chirpy commentary in my mind. I thought of yesterday’s post and reminded myself that my voice matters. The point of this project is not to emulate other artists or aspire to create work that my future self would create or to create museum quality work, it’s just to show up every day and to enjoy each step of the process without plaguing myself with constant self-doubt.

If you too find yourself at that point in your own project or process, that point where the noise starts to get to your head and steal the joy from you, remind yourself to turn down the volume, shut out the noise, and keep moving forward.