Dealing With Self Doubt
Admit it. We’ve all been there. At one time or another, you’ve looked at a piece of art work and thought “I’m not good enough” or perhaps you’re not as successful as you want to be or even worse, thought that your only option was to quit creating what you love most.
These types of thoughts can be really detrimental to an artist, especially if you plan to or sell your work for a living.
I’ll reason with you. We ALL think these kinds of things at some point, some more than others. Most artists look at a piece and think it’s unfinished, see all the flaws and think about what they could have done differently. And that’s part of the magnificent creative journey we all go through.
I often look at a “finished” piece and see tonnes of mistakes and sometimes end up scrutinising my work to the point that I feel really unmotivated to draw. You sometimes show your most hated piece to others, or perhaps it’s a commission and the time comes to show the client, and they are blown away by it, not seeing and looking at the work with critical eyes. And these conflicting thoughts and opinions can oftentimes feel confusing and cause even more self doubt.
“What if they’re just saying that to be nice?” is the first thing that comes into my mind when I dislike something that others really appreciate.
You need to rephrase that nagging thought in your head…”what if they’re saying that because they actually LIKE my work?”
Asking yourself this question puts a whole different mental attitude on things. Knowing that someone likes your work and appreciates your effort can make all the difference.
1. This is why I think it is always important to share your work, no matter how bad YOU think it is. People appreciate art in tonnes of different ways, and everyone’s opinions and likes are different. YOU might not like your work, or think that it’s good enough to share, but someone else – a random member of the public or friend – may think it’s amazing and inspiring.
Those people looking at it and thinking may or may not see all the flaws you do.
Sharing your work with other people and getting that positive feedback can actually be a huge help. You can become inspired and motivated to draw/paint/create. Having that positive thought in your head that, hey, maybe I’m not as bad as I thought after all, can help you on your way to overcoming that self doubt period.
Having that positive attitude about your work, and feeling inspired to create more can then help improve your skill. Creating more helps to develop your understanding of your chosen media and in turn helps you discover ways in which you can improve.
This creates a knock on effect. You feel inspired, you create more, your skill improves, more people show appreciation of your work, you feel inspired, you create more… You get the idea.
There’s one drawback here…don’t be reliant on other peoples opinions of your work. Take that positive attitude from others and apply it to yourself. Look at your work and appreciate it. Tell yourself all the things you like about it. Tell yourself all the flaws you can see and ask yourself “Do they matter?” “Do they overshadow the final project?”. Ask yourself how you could improve on your mistakes and then apply that to your next piece.
(Asking yourself these questions is part of the self critique process which I will cover in another Blog Post)
2. Make a plan for yourself. I always go on about planning and how important it is, but that’s because it’s so true. Make a plan for where you want to be. Visualise yourself as a successful artist. How did you get there? How do you WANT to get there?
It’s not going to be an easy journey but by mapping out roughly where you want to be will help you keep on track. It’s no good setting yourself unrealistic goals as that can encourage more self doubt. Don’t set yourself the goal of earning £20k in your first year from galleries or selling online.
Make smaller goals say, reaching a subscriber milestone or selling your first commission and increasingly grow on those goals to reach your ultimate one.
Envision yourself as successful and take the steps necessary to achieve it.
3. Most importantly:NEVER. GIVE. UP.
Tell yourself that quitting is not an option.
By not allowing yourself to quit, you can only ever do better and succeed by smashing that self doubt out of the park.