How to stop procrastinating and make your art

 

Wanting to stop procrastinating and yet continuing to do it is a conflict for many of us when it comes to our art.

It seems so obvious; just stop, right? Just do the thing!

And yet we still struggle.

Procrastination gets us all sometimes, irrespective of experience, personality, or practice.

So today I’m sharing something a little unusual by way of offering tools and encouragement… in a video.

The fact that I’m in this video came about after some major procrastinating of my own.

Face to camera video is a popular medium in the online world for obvious reasons; it helps us connect that little bit more through what is essentially a silent and flat medium.

As a hardcore introvert recluse hermit with a horror of being in the spotlight, a solid dislike for having my photo taken, and an embarrassing habit of rambling off topic and being unable to find the way back, I’d been circling the idea of face to camera video for a long time.

I tried it years ago, and not gonna lie, I hated it. I always felt so self conscious I couldn’t focus on what I was talking about, and it just didn’t get easier.

So for a long time I wrote it off as just something not for me, and I was ok with that.

We don’t have to do everything, and if we’re going to expend energy it might as well be where we’re strongest and most effective.

I’m better at writing than speaking so I focus on that, here on the blog and in my Artnotes. {And my book!}

The Invitation

But the idea kept nagging at me – you know how that goes, right?

So I’ve been percolating for a long {long} while about whether I could try again, and how I might do it in such a way that it might be enjoyable for me.

{Bear in mind this seemed like an impossibility.}

And then two things happened that helped me take a baby step forward.

  1. I started daily sea swimming, which has brought up a bunch of fears that I’ve been slowly and steadily working through with the help of a snorkel and underwater camera. So I have current learning about how to navigate fear, and increased confidence from doing so.
  2.  Jessica Craddock, of The Artist Market Co, asked me if I’d contribute to a short video she was making about procrastination. She just needed up to 30 seconds on how I handle it.

The irony is not lost on me. ;)

 

“Have no fear of perfection – you’ll never reach it.”

Salvador Dali

 

I figured, if I can’t make a 30 second video of me talking to camera, then I really should just let this one go.

It was like the universe was listening and had sent me the perfect opportunity to have another stab at it, with the lowest possible barrier to entry.

I don’t mind telling you I made maybe seven or eight attempts before getting something I was only mildly uncomfortable with.

I went blank repeatedly.

I felt weird looking at the camera lens on my phone rather than the screen.

The whole time I was recording I couldn’t stop thinking about how uncomfortable and strange this was.

When I looked back at the footage all I could see were little tics and awkwardness.

And I felt like my final cut didn’t tell the whole story of what I wanted to say.

But I still did it!

  • I did it because it had been on my mind for so long.
  • I did it because I’d said yes to Jessica and now had outside accountability. {And when doing what you say you’re going to do is a high value for you, that works well.}
  • I did it because I was curious. I’ve changed a lot since my first attempts at face to camera video, and I wondered if maybe, just maybe, it’d be a different experience now.

Plus, I’d really like to connect with you this way! I know people enjoy my writing, but I also know that I feel much more of a connection with people when I can see their faces and hear them talk.

The video

When it comes down to it, getting past procrastination really is a case of ‘just start’, but using one of these little tips can really help.

Here’s the video; my segment is at about 1:41. I’ve linked to the other artists who contributed below.

{If it’s silent for you, click the bottom right hand icon of a speaker.}

{Jessica even put me on the cover! Talk about baptism of fire!}

Other artists in the video {and of course Jessica who created it}:

The information that’s missing

I’ve talked a lot in this post about how fear was holding me back and reinforcing the procrastination. I think fear is a big component of putting things off, but it’s not always the main issue.

As I pointed out in my segment of the video, a helpful, non-judgemental way to view it is that it’s about understanding that there’s something missing – a piece of information that would make the next right step both obvious and {at least relatively} easy.

In my case, that missing piece turned out to be the opportunity to make a teeny tiny, low pressure video on a topic I’m very familiar with. :)

What would have made my point more accessible ;) would have been if I’d included an example of what I mean by this.

I’m all about the practical, actionable tools and while I love a good abstract theory, I find that they need to be ‘brought down’ into the physical for any change to happen.

An example

So let’s say I’m procrastinating on getting into the studio and painting.

I’d need to ask myself what piece of information, understanding or insight would make the next step obvious and easy?

Perhaps I’m procrastinating because I’m at a crucial point in a painting and am afraid to mess it up.

So maybe the missing information is going to be provided by practicing my ideas for developing it on some scrap paper, spending some time developing my skills, perhaps with a course, or looking at mine or other artists’ work for springboards to continue.

{Caveat: Be careful when looking to other artists; there’s a fine line between inspiration and copying or comparisonitis.}

Or maybe I’m procrastinating because I’ve been indulging in some negative internal chat about my abilities, and am feeling a bit of a fraud.

So, same question: what piece of missing information is going to make it easy {or easier} to get started again?

Maybe I need a pep talk from a trusted mentor, or to look at some of my lovely collector feedback, or to just spend some time with my favourite paintings and remember that I am capable even when I don’t feel that to be true.

I think it’s worth noting that sometimes the information we need is that we haven’t admitted to ourselves that we actually just don’t want to do the thing.

We’re so caught up in stories about commitment and consistency and not being a ‘flake’, that sometimes we don’t tell ourselves the truth about how we really feel, and it manifests in procrastination. So perhaps we can let it go, or delegate it to someone whose skillset better suits it {hi, book keeping}.

Take some time to check in on what information will lead you forward

It might seem like I’ve made an unnecessarily big deal of all this. I mean really, it’s a few seconds of video that only a very tiny percentage of humanity will see. ;)

But I’ve described it like this because we all have an area where we’re not moving forward with something that’s calling to us, for whatever reasons.

We all know that push/pull of wanting to do something, and not doing it.

All anyone can do is encourage you and share ways that we’ve got past those sticky blocks. I recommend giving one of the tips in the video a try, and seeing what happens.

If I can make a very imperfect video and allow it to be published on the internet feeling the way I feel about that, I know you can do your thing too. <3

***

Coming up soon – the ever popular 7 Day Series challenge! This is where we spend a week creating a small series of paintings {or other creative work}, as a way to show ourselves we can create cohesive work. So if that’s something you’ve been procrastinating on, why not join us and see what you’re capable of!

Sign up below if you’d like to receive the challenge emails. The challenge leads into the Touchstone course which will open for registration again in October, however there is of course no obligation to take it, and you can unsubscribe at any time.

 

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