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The Procrastinating Artist

Procrastinating is a Symptom

Up until a few years ago I was a PROcrastinator. I am pretty certain I could procrastinate procrastinating. Nothing was getting done and with six children running around it got to be a real problem. I knew I had to do something to change so I put my procrastinating time to good use.

Learning to Change

I started reading everything I could on how to become more organized, make better use of my time and really get things done. Through my research I learned that you should start with one area of your life where you can form a habit. Then work on that until you are consistently getting that task done. Then moved onto the next task and the next and so on.

It can take a lot of time, but it is well worth the effort. I’m still not 100% where I want to be and probably never will be, but I am much more organized and productive.

Just like my art, I am a work in progress. Which brings me to how all of this relates to art.

acrylic painting of green bamboo shoots and stacked rocks
Zen Garden by MarilynO @TrembelingArt

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Procrastinating is a Symptom

Most artists have periods of “artists block”. Times where they lack motivation or inspiration to paint.

A lot of us have full time jobs or family commitments that keep us from our art. These are transient things. They come and go with the seasons of our lives.

But for some of us it’s not an artists block or time constraints that keep us from creating. It goes much deeper into our psyche.

We creatively find excuses not to paint. The lighting isn’t right, I don’t have the right supplies, I need to defrost the fridge, the stars aren’t aligned right.

We invent all of these excuses and procrastinate for one reason. Fear.

Most often it’s the fear of failure that keeps us from doing what we love. The fear of not being good enough or talented enough or smart enough.

Everyone has faced that fear once in a while. It can take a lot of positive self talk and support to get past this fear.

Sometimes it’s actually the fear of success that keeps an artist from creating. After the euphoria of selling your first piece wears off you begin to wonder if you have used up all your creativity on that one piece of art.

Did the customer buy it just to be nice? Did you ask too high a price? Can you keep up with demand if people want more. Can you handle the stress of marketing and dealing with galleries and shows.

The fear starts to set in again.

Relapse

My story fits a little in both of theses scenarios. I was doing great “unprocrastinating” ( new word. Hey, I’m creative ?).

That is until I was diagnosed with Parkinson’s and started my art journey.

I started off fine. I didn’t expect much of myself since I was new to art and was suffering with the tremors and muscle spasms of the disease.

As time went on I got better with practice. I began to get some recognition and started selling some of my work.

Then the fears started creeping in. I’m not a trained artist. I’m really not very good. Were people buying my stuff because I have Parkinson’s?

I felt like a fraud and fell back into old habits. I began to paint less and less and procrastinate more and more.

Fixing the Problem

Part of my procrastination process was spending hours visiting websites of other artists. I read wonderful motivating blog posts by artists who were struggling with some of the same issues. I also read through some great motivational web sites.

Eventually I began to implement some of their advice. I put post it notes with motivational quotes all over my studio and the rest of my house. My family must have thought I was a little weird but that’s nothing new.

I rearranged my studio so that it looked pleasant and welcoming. It became the place where I did my morning meditation and set a positive affirmation for the day.

painting of girl with orange umbrella on a dark, rainy day
Orange Umbrella by MarilynO @TrembelingArt

However, the biggest motivating factor for me was the big white canvas on my easel.

I began to tell myself that it was my canvas in my studio. My art was mine. It didn’t belong to anyone else.

Art was my therapy and mental outlet to deal with my disease. It was my “why”, the reason I began to paint in the first place. It no longer mattered what people thought about my work or why they bought it. Even my own opinion of it wasn’t important.

All that mattered was that I was creating every day. If I make a little money along the way that’s a bonus.

I Hope You Find Your “Why”

In the end, getting back to the reason you are doing something will help you overcome that fear. Silence your inner critic and do what you love simply because you love it.

If you are struggling I hope you find your “why” and renew your passion for your work. The “why” will overcome your fear.

Thanks for reading.

Digital signature Marilyn with butterfly

Motivational Resources:

http://www.agora-gallery.com/advice/blog/2017/05/11/dealing-artists-block/

http://www.janicetantonblog.com/

http://taraleaver.com/blog/

http://www.ted.com/playlists/617/simple_ways_to_spark_your_creativity

3 thoughts on “The Procrastinating Artist”

  1. I hear what you are sayig (and I am guilty) however I read a long time ago “there is no such thing as procrastination, there is simply doing and not doing” So now I can’t hide behind a big word.

  2. Extremely well-rehearsed, Fabulous information, AND well written!
    Thank You,
    From one of the ‘best ever procrastinators’

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