Reflections on Doubt
As I looked over my recent work, there was something not quite right. No matter what I tried, I couldn’t bring myself to “finish” anything. Something cruel began to nag at me.
My two-dimensional sculptures were headed in the right direction, but I could tell they weren’t quite “there”. After going back through my inspiration and original concepts, I decided that I needed to experiment with more surface detail and complexity. The question was, “How?”.
At first, I thought about adding detail through painting. I have always loved watercolours and decided to experiment with a similar effect. Very quickly I realized that I wasn’t going to achieve the level of precision that I wanted with my line work (the ceramic surface varies greatly in its qualities from watercolour paper).
I went to bed after the painting attempt and felt my old friend, Doubt, cozy up next to me.
“Why are you putting yourself through this?” he asked. “Why do you even bother at all?”
Fear gripped my heart and I put my hands over my ears to block him out.
The act of being creative can pull you in so many directions at once. You feel excited about a new idea, a rush of delight when you first begin and then… a cold anxiety will begin to sneak up. It will sneak up so slowly that you don’t even notice. Until you start to invent reasons why you shouldn’t continue.
Sometimes, even more dangerously, you even begin to list reasons why you should probably abandon this whole notion of "making art" in the first place.
What we make matters enormously and it doesn’t matter at all.
– Elizabeth Gilbert, Big Magic
It can be difficult to acknowledge this paradox and move forward, but it’s the only answer in this situation. In the face of doubt, we must take action. Three actions specifically – show up, stay focused and be ready for the next idea to strike.
And that’s exactly what I did next.