The creative yo yo: finding fun amongst the highs and lows

If you’re creative like me then you’ll probably find you’re on a constant roller-coaster ride of creative highs and artist-block lows. I go from one day thinking my work is great, to thinking that even my two year old would be too ashamed to have it pinned on the fridge door. Maybe it’s all part of having a creative brain; you need to experience the extremes in life to be able to express them more passionately - to create work that has depth and integrity even if you go insane in the process. Hopefully I won’t get so bad that I’ll end up chopping one of my ears off or collecting my own urine ;)

Today I was on a downer. It’s not that I’m stuck for ideas or that I think my work is particularly bad, it’s just that I don’t know where to start, who to approach next with my work and whether I’m just barking up the wrong tree so much that I kill all the life in it and every other tree standing. I feel like people are stood watching me invest ‘my all’ into my art and thinking that I should just pack it all in and go live like a normal person who goes to bed on time and doesn’t wake at 3am with another stupid idea for a piece of work. God damn it, you thought that didn’t you?! And then I go round in circles thinking I’ll pack it all in because it’s too soul destroying (because I can’t do anything by halves), to picking myself back up again and thinking I’m going to take over the world with my art.

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I felt down today because I’ve been pushing doors that have remained closed (no big deal, right?) but as an artist, when you send out something it’s like you send out a little piece of your soul right there. It’s not even like you expect to hear back from everyone - I’m not deluded but the fact still remains that someone took a look at my work and thought 'not for me sweetheart’ (They always use words like 'sweetheart’ in my head in a really patronising voice). 

Then in the next 5 minutes I sell 2 more of my illustrations and I get positive feedback on a piece of work I thought was rubbish and I’m back to the top again. Ah, okay, I’m not so bad… must start believing in myself.

When it comes to the crunch, why do you do anything in life at all? Is it because you’re good at it? Because people like it? Or, because it’s so much a part of you that you just can’t stop; because it says something deeper than any blog piece you’ll write or conversation you’ll have. Because it’s fun. You see, I came to the conclusion this evening that if I gave up my art I would be giving up a part of me. I may well be barking up the wrong tree but does it even matter if I’m more content in life to do so, as long as I’m not harming any squirrels in the process.

So my question to all you creatives is: is it possible to stay level headed and be a successful artist? Are you able to take a very pragmatic approach to rejections and set backs? If you do then I really need some help with how to use this yo yo of mine. Though I am having fun in the process.

www.lisamaltby.com