Perfection Fremenkshun

You should never not do what you want.

It can make you real grumpy.

I am a firm believer in letting hobbies feel like your life. Sometimes, letting that community theatre gig or Zumba class take up more space in your brain than schoolwork or your desk job makes the days go a little smoother. Definitely a method of protecting against wrinkles, in my humble opinion.

However, pursuing activities that we love can be weirdly frustrating, especially when it comes to things we wanted to do at a living at some point (see: my first grade drawing as my grown up self as an artist with a beret and a red convertible).  It’s hard to just enjoy the hobby and not demand perfection.
The reason I bring this up is that recently, I’ve found myself avoiding the start of a project because I don’t have “the perfect idea.” Yesterday I almost didn’t paint my ode to burrito love because I didn’t feel like the pencil sketch was perfect. The funny thing is that I was painting as a break from my school work! It was supposed to be cathartic and release my stress, not create it!

I remind myself on an hourly basis that every artist (whether a painter or a linebacker) struggles with craft. It’s our need to channel our imperfections into something beautiful. Or, maybe it’s like taking a big poo. It’s natural, it’s necessary. Don’t be ashamed of it, but don’t let it get in the way of enjoying what you are doing!

Here are two examples of famous, fabulous, absolutely incredible artists struggling with their work (spoiler alert: they are human). First, a telegram sent from Dorothy Parker to her editor describing her trouble with writer’s block:

Don’t you already feel better about every single time you’ve struggled to express yourself?  And everything is “covered with wrong words?” Dorothy Parker was definitely not, as she calls herself, “incompetant.” She helped found The New Yorker for pig’s sake!

Second up is the astounding Elaine Stritch. In this behind-the-scenes video, she struggles finding soul and strength when recording (probably my favorite song she ever sang) Ladies Who Lunch from the musical Company. Listening to the final recording, you would never guess that she had any trouble, or had to get into full hair and make up before finally finding her stride. I love that she wants to do the song justice and has to get creative to come up with a solution!

So, I am curious! How do you talk yourself out of a panic when artistic self-hatred sets in? How do you make yourself get back to work without it feeling like … work? Do you put on your fake eyelashes or do you reach out to a friend? Or do you just paint the burrito anyway?


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