Exploring the Abyss: How to overcome creative obstacles
If you read my last blog post, you know that recently I needed to step back for my own sanity, but after doing so, I found that busyness just filled up the gaps. It’s like I stepped off one hamster wheel to try out another. I had to get disciplined about resting, which are words I never thought I would utter. When yesterday came, I finally had the energy to create the first in a new body of work I’m exploring, only to be confronted by what seemed like endless obstacles. How do you overcome that when you’re feet are already feel heavy? I don’t have a magical cure for this, but I can tell you how I got through it. Let’s do this...
I set out to embark on the exploration of a new body of work, right?--but I found myself in knots. I felt so overwhelmed by the process of set up that I almost pushed it off. As I waded through the swamp of my own mind, pushing past this obstacle, I was met with yet another...the backdrop I’d planned to use was ruined. The Weatherman ran over it with the car because I have nowhere else to store it but our garage (in the house we outgrew before we even moved in).
Here I am trudging through internal sludge, waist deep in mental-mud so thick I can barely lift a foot and here comes a mud-ball to the face. Wth, man?!
This discovery rendered me utterly stuck. I literally stood paralyzed and staring out the side-door-window of the garage. My body was frozen, but my mind took off sprinting through the dappled light of the giant oak tree screaming like a little girl--leaving the rest of me in the dust.
I want to flee from the hard.
After my mind calmed a bit, my inner dialogue went something like this...
Bad Lauren: You could give up. You could call it for today.
Good Lauren: But there’s the deadline for that thing I’m really looking forward to. I should keep going...maybe I could try that other thing instead. Either it works or it doesn’t and trying is better than nothing.
Bad Lauren: Just give up already!
Good Lauren: Yep. I’m going to try that thing. Good talk.
As I pulled myself up by my proverbial birkenstock-straps, I chose to take a creative risk and go about it another way. I peered through my mind’s eye and visualized the sense of victory I could have if I overcame this sizable obstacle. And do you know what?! It looked worth it.
...and what if I also choose a posture of gratitude for the challenge and what it might produce rather than wallow in creative-self-pity?
Challenge also accepted.
Back to work! I went inside to grab my speedlite only to discover I was short a battery. One lone battery standing in the way of me and my next masterpiece. What do you think happened next?
Well, I could bore you with the long list of trivial hindrances that came next and the inner battle that ensued, but that’s not the point.
The point is that this entire experience encompasses a lot of the struggle that I and so many other creatives go through. The struggle is real for many of us trying to make enough bacon to feed ourselves and perhaps a small army (and fix the horse-dog with $350 worth of infected anal glands….Yes, yes, I did just say that).
But wait! There’s more….
Upon completing what felt like a monumental task, I then had to write an artist statement, for the thing I mentioned earlier. Though writing artist statements is an excellent exercise, it can be quite challenging. Writing about a piece after expending the energy to create it is it’s own kind of hard. The kind that makes you dig extra deep, organize your thoughts, and then fluff it up into fancy art-terms to make you sound legit. Okay, but really...I didn’t exactly feel like it in the moment, but I unearthed my trenches and I’m sooo grateful I did! You see, the hats I wear come with a marathon of obstacles that I’m constantly running into to make space to pursue a fine art career...and not the kind of career you use “air quotes” for. I’m in this for real, because guess what?--monopoly money and instagram likes aren’t going to feed and clothe my kids. And you? I see you. You have your own titles with obstacles of their own.
So why am I telling you all of this?
Well, lest you be deceived in thinking I enjoy referencing canine anal glands, it’s actually because sometimes I need to hear all of the reasons why I should continue to fight through the obstacles. Even if the person I hear it from is me. And If I need reminding that it’s worth it to face “hard” dead on, then I assume some of you may need to hear it too.
In these last moments that I have your attention, let me remind you that you have something amazing to offer. You create magic when you resolve to push past the obstacles to do what you were born to do. You can find incredible treasures when you explore your abyss through the awakening of the heart and spirit which all too often fall victim to a busy-slumber. That treasure won’t surface by itself and it wouldn’t be treasure if it didn’t take effort to find. So carry on, Warrior! Overcome those obstacles. This world needs what you have to give.