Artist blocks

Be Kind About Your Productivity

Before the end of last year I had all these plans of what artwork I wanted to create and techniques and mediums I wished to try.  I made a plan of what I was going to do each week right up to the spring but when the new year came around I was really finding it hard to get motivated.  Normally at the new year I am inspired to get going but this time, I started to feel bad about this and asked myself what was wrong, why didn’t I want to create anything.

Sketchbook of unfinished artwork

To make matters worse I was spending time on Instagram looking at art and seeing all my favourite and admired artists and illustrators pumping out work at the rate of knots. Of course this made me feel a lot worse, so how and why did I get myself into this negative cycle of thoughts?

All of us on the creative path will experience peaks and troughs in our creativity and this is perfectly normal, so when you are in a less creative time it is important that you are kind to yourself.  These tips shared in this post have really helped me in these times of low productivity.

You Are Not a Machine 

Before I ‘hit the wall’ with my creativity I had been worked really hard juggling two part-time teaching jobs with creating illustration work.  I was working on my illustration work for myself but treated it like a job and set myself quite punishing deadlines.  Mostly I met the deadlines and was pleased with myself but sometimes life happened and things slipped.

I have a schedule and would tick off each project if I had completed it and not being able to click of the projects in the time I had decided they needed to be completed really bothered me.

Sketchbook of unfinished work

One day I woke up and told myself that I didn’t need to create work at this pace all the time, it was okay to take a break.  Sometimes in the winter months my energy is low and I just need some rest.  It is really important to give yourself a bit of slack, after all it is supposed to be fun to create artwork and once it isn’t things go downhill.

Are You Overly Subscribed?

One of the issues contributing to my feelings that I had to be producing all the time at a fast pace was my oversubscription to all these art groups, art challenges, newsletters and blogs.  Now of course these are all fantastic and I would recommend that you have some newsletters, blogs, follow other artists and so on, however there is such a thing as overkill.

I remember one month my phone was pinging five times a day with drawing challenge prompts and posts from artists sharing the weekly challenge, it was all too much and the result was overwhelm.  I decided at that point just to follow a few artists blogs that I really valued and to do one challenge at a time.

Sharing symbol

Accept You are Where You Are

This comes down to comparison again, sometimes when we see other artists creating work like a factory we forget that they may be a full-time artist or illustrator or retired.  It is not a good idea to compare your productivity with someone else, you might create complex and intricate artwork that takes weeks, another artist might have an expressive sketchy style where they can create many artworks quickly.

I had to accept that I only have so much time to dedicate to my artwork as I have a busy part-time teaching job, once I realised this I downsized my schedule and was kinder to myself about my productivity.

Diary with art day blocked out

There is No Such Thing as Behind 

It is frustrating when you don’t have the time others have to create what you would like but you can still use the time you do have, in fact I’m someone that when I have too much time I waste it.  Having little bits of time really focusses me to work well when I I’m organised and know what I am doing with that time.  When you catch yourself suggesting that you are ‘behind’ stop that and think really is there such a thing.

Does it matter if you don’t create a drawing everyday or even every week? No, in fact some of my most admired artists had great success in their 80’s, so it is never too late.

Do you find yourself being harsh on yourself about your productivity?  Share your thoughts below…


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