The creative block, when ideas and inspiration are at a standstill and the creative avoids or procrastinates on a project, is something every creative fears. While we think of this as a block, it can often stem from perfectionism. Perfectionism, at the core, is fear; fear of failure, fear of rejection and fear of not measuring up to other’s expectations. This fear can be crippling and can hold you back in your creative career. The vulnerability of constantly producing and putting our work out into the world, can stop a perfectionist in their tracks. It is difficult to be creative when we come from a place of self-doubt or worry about failure. If you are not sure if you are a perfectionist, the following are a few signs.
If you can only start in ideal conditions, like more studio space, better supplies, more formed ideas or more practice, you might be a perfectionist. Although it sounds healthy to want everything just right before starting, it is an excuse that usually stems from the possibility of failing. There are never perfect conditions and one way to combat this is to create rituals for yourself as a way of triggering your body into working. You will know that once you fill that brush jar with water, it is time to just start working.
Another perfectionist quality is if you never feel like a piece is finished and you always find something that can be changed. If you continue to make changes, you never have to admit that the piece is finished- or the fact it might be rejected. One way to change this behavior is to make more work instead of picking apart one piece. Set a goal and timeline to have several pieces “finished” and stick to it.
If you constantly get creative block, you may be putting too much pressure on yourself to make the perfect piece. Try lowering your expectations of your work and realize that no one makes a masterpiece every time they enter the studio. Take the pressure off by painting in an art journal or on paper with a time limit. On the other hand, if you have a lot of work in progress but nothing finished, you might feel nothing is quite good enough to show anyone. Try to have someone you trust look at your work and find a solution to finishing your pieces.
Finally, comparing yourself to others will leave you exhausted and paralyzed. Everyone is at different stages and working on different projects. Try to respect the journey and find out what you can learn and use from them in a positive way.
Being perfect is exhausting. If you are never feeling like what you are creating is good enough, the procrastination, anxiety and comparisons can take its toll on you. Try to find a supportive group that can help you stay motivated and keep on track. If you are interested in more about Perfectionists, be our guest at our next meeting, “Perfectionists Anonymous” on July 11 at 1pm on zoom with speaker Sedona Rigsby. Learn more and sign up here.