Wednesday, March 28, 2012

Two Steps Forward One Step Back (don't give up)

Two Steps Forward One Step Back...(don't give up) [detail]
journal pages, stamps, watercolor, gold sharpie

My intentions this spring have been to get back to journaling, writing, painting, blogging and various other creative, business and real world ventures. I was doing ok, getting my momentum going when, blam! from out of nowhere, I got a stomach virus which knocked me out for a couple of days and left me limp for a week.

So here I am recovering, looking at my blog and my journal and avoiding looking at my lonely novel in need of revision, and feeling entirely dissatisfied and unproductive and just plain BAD. I feel like I CAN'T do it, I CAN'T paint, CAN'T write, CAN'T get back to that place where I want to be.

And then I remembered... this is the process. This is the way growth works. Not all at once, not in a smooth upward climb towards success, but in fits and spurts and moments of going nowhere and then bursts of energy.

I have not been defeated by my momentary illness, it's just another one of those knock-backs, just the step in the wrong direction before I find my right direction again.
Two Steps Forward and One Step Back (don't give up)
Journal Spread, watercolor, stamps, sharpie

I did some journaling yesterday, also, thinking about my bad feelings and negative reaction to not being able to get my creative mojo back up after being ill, and I thought..."Well, hey, what if it was my first grade son who was having these feelings of inadequacy? What would I say to him?" And here is what I came up with.

My Advice to My Son

  • Keep trying. Don't give up because it is difficult or seems like it isn't going anywhere. Keep trying and you'll figure it out.
  • Pay attention to your progress. Look back at where you were last week, or last month, or the beginning of the year, and see how far you've come and what you've accomplished. If you could do it then, you can do it now.
  • Practice makes you better. Even if you aren't great at something right now, the more you practice it, the better you will get and the more you will learn. Learning is a process, and it takes the struggles to get somewhere.
  • Sometimes, mistakes are good. We learn from our mistakes. We learn what doesn't work and we learn what does work. We're supposed to make mistakes because we're learning new things.
  • It's okay if you don't get it right or do it perfectly, because once you try, you can look at what you've already done and fix it so that you like it better.
  • Sit down and concentrate. Take it slowly and be careful. And for goodness sake, stop fidgeting and wiggling and stop watching the tv (or in my case, looking at the internet).
  • Stop looking for excuses and do it now. 15 minutes on the timer. GO!
  • Trust yourself. You are smart enough. You are good enough. You can figure it out.
  • If you can't figure it out, that's okay.  We'll figure it out together. Or we'll look it up. Or we'll ask for help. We don't have to know everything and we don't have to get it perfectly.
It's funny how much of my advice to my son when he has been learning how to read and write and do math and develop work habits and get homework done and become a good student can help me in my attempts to become a better artist, writer, blogger etc. Even if I'm not new to this game like he is, but when you've been knocked back by the winds of growth, it can seem like you're a beginner again. It's not such a bad idea to treat yourself like that beginner and give yourself the room to make mistakes, to be imperfect, and to not have things all figured out.

1 comment:

Zena said...

I am planning to get back to tradictional journaling too... I am keeping a blog, which is 365 days project and indeed is a way of journaling, but I miss my journals and collages... your advice is very helpful. Thanks!

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