FOCUS: The Creative Process & Art

For the second part of my Focus series, I want to talk about how I’m embracing my word of the year and applying it towards my art, and the creative process.

I think all creatives can agree that, be you an artist, a writer, a photographer, what have you – the creative process can be a rough road. There are many forms of the below text floating around the interwebs so I’m not sure of the original source, but this method about sums up the creative process of every single piece of art I make.

The initial burst of inspiration leads to YES! THIS IS AWESOME! I start sketching…Hmmm, this is tricky. Realize my sketch sucks donkey butt…this is shit. Realize I am a failure as an artist…I am shit. Continue working and get it right…this might be ok. Finish up and realize, oh, THIS IS AWESOME! Even when I like the end result, it’s a mental battle to get there.

Getting started can be absolutely brutal. And I feel like it is so freaking important to learn to push past the shit stage. It’s hard. I still don’t always do it. I abandon sketches or drawings, or erase them furiously which can often lead to this gem of a creative process:

via Murray The Nut

I can’t tell you how many times in the past I’ve sat down for a ‘sketching’ session and it somehow turns into a ‘scroll Instagram for an hour’ session.

But this year I want to change that. I want to actively work on pushing myself through the starting point; to silence that inner voice constantly berating myself. Am I going to have shit work sometimes? You bet. But that is OKAY. Accepting that is a huge part of focusing on my art this year. Learning to make peace with the fact that not everything we do has to be perfect, or even all that good, can be difficult but ultimately so productive, and so beneficial to the creative process (and one’s sanity!)

Other than focusing on getting through the process, I also want to focus on actually finishing pieces. I know this sounds like a huge DUH, but I am notorious for starting art projects and then abandoning them for no good reason. (Long time readers may remember some Avengers oil paintings I started last year? Yeah, still unfinished…they are on a shelf with so many other unfinished works…) I’m holding myself to completing pieces this year. Finishing something, even if you end up not liking the result, can be such a great feeling. Take pride in knowing you completed something, regardless if you’re unhappy with the end result.

And lastly, I think the best thing that applies to anyone’s creative process is finding what works for you. I feel like you can read so many things about productivity, or the creative process, and they will each say something different. Get up early! Listen to only this kind of music while you work! Walk backwards in a circle before you start! But ultimately, if it’s not working for you, it’s not going to be helpful. Me? I’m not a morning person. I’m never going to be. Therefore, I don’t make time to work on art in the morning. I feel most inspired and motivated at night, so that’s when I make time for art. My kiddo is in bed by eight, and I can spend the next four or five hours creating away. That’s what works for me. Find what works for you!

What’s your greatest struggle with the creative process? How do you overcome it?

FOCUS is my One Little Word for 2016. This series shares the ways that I’m applying it each aspect of my life, personal and professional.




  • Procrastination is my bane. I ended up creating a second user account on my laptop for writing my bachelor thesis, that now I use to study. My browser there has just University related bookmarks and there are no programs or social tempting me on my desktop!

    • Emma

      This is a really brilliant idea! Procrastination will be the death of me.

    • Kay

      That is a fabulous idea! And yes, procrastination is such a killer. I’m learning quickly to put my phone in a completely other room when I sit down for art sessions, especially if it’s something I’m a bit nervous about starting. The less distractions the better!

  • Emma

    I think that pie chart may be my spirit animal.. if it were an animal – Only the napping would probably be Netflix.

    • Kay

      100% agreed. Though I do love a good nap sometimes. 😀

  • gamerwife

    I’ve finally come to terms with the fact that I need to be able to bounce ideas off of others in order to be creative. I just don’t seem to have the confidence to be creative on my own, but give me a collaborator for the brainstorming part and away we go. However, for doing the actual work I NEED to do it myself. I’m way too much of a micromanager to be actually collaborative.

    • Kay

      Funny, we are complete opposites in that regard. I am too insecure in my creative work to feel comfortable collaborating ideas with someone. I actually recently got invited to work on an awesome project, and I accepted and am TOTALLY TERRIFIED. It’s a learning process to realize that my work is considered good enough or as good as people’s that I admire. It’s really something that I have trouble accepting, but I’m working on it this year!

  • christine

    I love that you are focusing on finishing pieces. I find this so often with my writing, or any art project – I ride that “this is awesome!” beginning stage, tire of the hard work involved in actually completing anything, then forget about it … only to move onto a new whim of inspiration and repeat the same process. I love chasing my inspiration when it comes, but you’re right – it’s not nearly as rewarding as actually finishing something you’ve worked long and hard on, even if you aren’t satisfied. I would add that I need to focus on actually putting effort into the completion – often I scrape something together haphazardly, just so I can say in my mind – “tada! it’s done!” haha. Good luck – always love seeing your WIPs and finished pieces on Insta!

    • Kay

      Thanks! And yes, that system is how I traditionally operate – so much enthusiasm and then losing it halfway through and moving on. I will break that cycle this year!

  • Danielle Knapp

    I love this post so much 🙂 I tend to do most of my creative stuff at night after the kiddo is in bed as well.

    • Kay

      Thanks! Glad I’m not the only night owl. I always feel like mums are ‘supposed’ to be these perky morning productive people and I have trouble dragging my butt out of bed at 7:30 haha. Whereas from the house from 9pm – 1am I am in my primetime!

  • I do most of my creative stuff during the early morning hours. Since, I’m a photographer I love the light in the morning. But that is not to see that is when I edit or actually do work. It is just this time of day I feel the most creative.

    • Kay

      Morning light for photos is definitely amazing, don’t blame you there. It’s different for everyone, and I feel like finding what works for you is the most important thing. I tried for months to be a morning person, and in the end I feel like I just ended up with a lot of wasted time. I’m just a night owl, and that’s okay!

      • Oh yes so true. I’m only creative photography wise in the moring, I never get much done as far as “work” or school. I’m much more productive in the afternoon or late evening.

  • My biggest struggle is that I WANT to do stuff, but I am always too scared to start. I really want to learn how to draw, and I think I might be good at it if I buckle down and focus, but it’s so scary!

    Love this post 🙂

    • Kay

      Pushing through the fear is such a real struggle. And it’s freaking HARD. Honestly, it STILL holds me back in many cases of not wanting to break out of my comfort zone for fear of it being bad. I’m slowly learning to realize that bad is okay! It’s a place to start! I definitely encourage you to start, and remember if it’s ‘bad’ – no one has to see it if you don’t want to share it!

  • This was a great post! <3 <3 <3 <3 <3

    • Kay

      Thanks Mandy!

  • Pingback: A Design Process – Do You Have One? | apophenia inc.()


Get the latest posts delivered to your mailbox: