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Creative Rants: Frustration Is Normal

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I experience moments of pure joy when creating. Whether it’s a mandala, or a photo, or a blog post, the mere act of creating is joy.

Then there are times, many times, of pure frustration.

Creativity is usually a stable “thing.” The practice of a creative pursuit is a roller-coaster of emotion. A brutal reminder of how humans are subject to neurosis.

Lately, the emotional journey of my creativity involves a tremendous amount of frustration. I would feel tremendously better about myself if I was only frustrated because of the tools I use.

If a pencil broke mid-line. If I had a smudge on my lens. If I simply ran out of blank pages in my sketchbook.

Oh what a wonderful creative life it would be.

No. My frustration is more than simple physical limitations. The self-imposed mental hurdles have appeared.

I don’t think of this as creative block. It’s more of self-imposed pressure. The artistic perfectionism.

The quest for immediate success. Instead, it’s immediate frustration.

Frustration Is Part Of “It”

What is it? “It” is the process. The process all of us creators go through to create.

The art of making art.

Each of us uses a process. A system, whether we recognize it or not, to create whatever we make. The system we use is supposed to make our efforts, effortless. But we get frustrated. We don’t get what we want immediately and poof! Frustrated.

Aggravated.

Annoyed.

That moment of WTF am I doing!

Here’s the kicker to this creative frustration: it’s a good thing.

There, I said it.

Now admit it to yourself. Frustration is good.

Let me insert a rule: frustration is only good if you suck it up and keep going. If you let your frustration stop you from creating, then you failed. You lost. Go home.

But, if you move forward. If you write another paragraph or draw another shape, your frustration is paying off.

Frustration with your creative business and life is a motivator.

Imagine if the Founding Father’s accepted King George and Parliament’s edicts. “Nah, we’re good George, we’ll pay some more and give good shelter to your Red Coats. It’s cool.”

Don’t let your frustration become acceptance of failure. Don’t fear failure either. So what, that painting didn’t work out. That blog post was just another post.

Keep moving. The one true way to overcome creative frustration is to just keep doing.

It’s not easy. It’s not supposed to be. Nothing in life worth doing is easy. That’s a fact. Now go and do.


Also published on Medium.

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