The Creative Process: Power Through It

I wanted to write about something I face daily. And, if any part of your work dips into the creative process, whether making paintings or spreadsheets, I’m sure you’ve had to deal with it, too.

Picture this: you’ve planned out your day. You know what you need to accomplish. You have a checklist. Maybe you’ve even drawn out rough concepts. You’ve spent time thinking about it, mentally planning. You’ve pulled whatever reference or source material you need. You sit down, get to work. You are on a roll. Yes, progress! Your task list is diminishing. And, suddenly – a wall.

Uh-oh! There is nothing more appealing than quitting, maybe taking a “break.” (And by break, I mean – you’re done! It’s time for Netflix and Pinterest!) Yep! Now, the thought of continuing your creative process sounds like the hardest thing to do in the world.

Reference of Yoyo Cao via @theoutsiderblog

Sadly, I’ve found myself in this conundrum more often than I’d like to admit. I wonder, did I set out unrealistic expectations of what I can accomplish? Conversely, I ask myself, why am I so tired? Have I grown soft?

Studies and books I’ve read suggest using brain power is just as exhaustive as exercising muscle. So, even though you’re sitting at your desk all day, it makes sense to become fatigued after long periods of intense focus.

Basically, you’re at a crossroads. Continue on? Wrap up for the day? Take a break, and hope you have the discipline to return to your creative process?

WIP of illustration Reference of Yoyo Cao via @theoutsiderblog

Don’t Be So Hard On Yourself

If you’re like me, there is a high possibility you might be overestimating the amount you can achieve. Don’t be so hard on yourself. Course correct. That said, sometimes you just have to face the music, buckle down, and get it done.

At first, it feels awful. It is a struggle. Yes, “hashtag the struggle is real.” But, do you ever scroll through Instagram or read that story on Facebook about some incredible person who chased their dreams and built their own success?

Well, in my opinion, this is a fork in the road they probably faced just as often. Did they give into their desire to binge Stranger Things? (Maybe they did.) But, more often than not, I think they said, “No, I’m getting it done!”

It’s definitely hard to be disciplined when you’re exhausted. But, there is no greater motivator than focusing on your ultimate goal. Take a short break, walk around, grab a coffee, have a quick change of environment. Set a timer if you’re afraid you won’t be able to go back. Sometimes I mentally pump myself up. “You can do it!” “It will be amazing when you finish!” “Once you complete this, you will feel so incredible!”

I think about the outcome of the two paths. If I take a “break,” I might enjoy a few hours of leisure time. But, the next couple of days might be even more stressful. If I power through my creative process, I’ll be able to relax earlier and the quality of my work will be better, too. (Since, by pacing myself, I wasn’t stressed and rushed.)

Anyway, this was on my mind and I just wanted to write about it. Honestly, a little bit because I need the reminder myself. Do you face this? Am I the only one? Do you have any tips you can share?