What should I do when I feel like giving up?

Sometimes I feel like giving up on art.

“Nothing’s gaining traction. Nothing’s sticking. Everyone else is getting hired, getting commissioned, securing work. And I’m getting nothing.”

Then I think back about the career I gave up in order to be here and wonder, was it worth it? Is it not too late to go back to that comfy 9-5 job sitting in-front of a computer with a steady salary and health insurance?

It’d be so much easier.

I wouldn’t need to push myself. I wouldn’t need to look for clients. I wouldn’t need to grow as an artist. I wouldn’t need to immerse myself in my craft. I wouldn’t question my worth as a member of society. I would just turn up, do the tasks before me and collect a paycheck at the end of the month. A good paycheck at that.

I ask myself now and then…

“Why did you leave that behind? Why am I doing this infinitely harder thing instead? Why not just give up on doing art, or acting, or singing, or music, or whatever creative dream you have?”

And after feeling like crap, moping and thinking, I get up and go for a walk. I listen to some podcasts. I read stories of other artists. Then the answer comes back to me. Because it’d kill me. It’d kill me to not pursue my dreams.

I think when creative people take a step toward something, they grow. And when we grow we can’t shrink back into the shapes that we leave behind. The truth is, I could fantasize all I wanted about going back to a comfy day job. But it just wouldn’t be the same me going back. I’d be a square piece trying to fit back into a triangle-shaped hole. And I know that.

I remind myself now and then that I’m on the right path.

A lot of creative people’s doubts pop up because of external factors like a lack of clients, commissions and contracts. But we like what we’re doing. And for me, if I had that external validation going for me – which will come eventually – then I’d feel a lot more secure in what I’m doing. I wouldn’t wonder so much where the office job me would be, how much he’d be earning and how he’d be feeling.

So what should you do when you feel like giving up?

Make more art. No. Make great art.

“Make art? The thing that is doing absolutely nothing for me on social media and not getting anything for me on Behance or ArtStation?”

Well, yeah. Pour out your frustration and your anger into your art. Your jealousies and your envies. Your insecurities and your fears. That’s the only thing that you can do. And I hear it’s great inspiration.

When nobody’s watching, that’s the time you should make as many mistakes as you want. Now’s the time to blurt it all out, and get it all out there, because when you do make it, then it’ll be too late to let out all your creative ‘mistakes’ then. So make more art now. Get all the crap out of your system. I mean, nobody else is watching and nobody else cares anyway – right?

So the next time you’re feeling down about your own art. Just keep doing it. Revel in the fact that absolutely nobody is watching you except you. And just do it anyway.

Leave a Reply