Being bad at art (or why 10,000 hours doesn't mean shit) [pseudo-rant]

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Being bad at art (or why 10,000 hours doesn't mean shit) [pseudo-rant]

Post by Glides on Mon Sep 10, 2018 1:27 pm

There are two things that give me more anxiety than anything else in the world: intimacy and showing someone something I've created, almost always because they pressure me into it.

A kind of friction I've had in my social group recently is the burning feeling of envy I get whenever I see them, because a lot of my friends are very artistically inclined and this means whenever you see them, they'll sit you down and show off whatever they've created. For a while, this wasn't really a problem, but as they all improved exponentially and I didn't at all, it's become harder and harder to see people as I will inevitably be asked to sit down and see what they've created and then proceed to mentally beat myself up for not reaching their level of talent.

I know, the grass is always greener, yadda yadda yadda. It's such a little thing, even writing this out. The difference is that they don't feel crippling anxiety at the idea of promoting themselves or showing off, they don't mind their own imperfections, and I'm the kind of person who subconsciously lives by the rule "either it's perfect in every way or you just give up."

Which means I give up a lot.

In fact, if there's anything I'm good at, it's giving up. I've done more giving up than I've done anything save basic functions like breathing or eating or sleeping. It's become compulsive, it's become chronic, I chronically give up and do nothing. It's escalated so much that I no longer try anything artistic save writing down ideas for things I could write or make. That's all I do now, and at some point it'll become so unbearable I'll stop doing even that and resort to being only a consumer and never a creator.

This kind of anxiety, much like the anxiety towards intimacy I've talked about in other threads, is an anxiety that is thoroughly my own. This is not to say that there's none at all, but it's not crippling for other people. Other people can have as many lovers as they want without having a panic attack, and their anxiety revolves more around whether or not said lover finds them attractive or how long they'll be together. There's insecurity, but the actual intimacy of that relationship doesn't make them even remotely afraid and feeling like they're about to pass out.

The same goes for artists, they may worry what people think and they'll be convinced that they'll never succeed and that it won't be any good but that doesn't stop them from completing things or even starting them. Just the idea of writing a single word for a screenplay completely cripples me, I spend hours in front of a blank screen and get three pages in and then delete it. I've deleted more than I've written, the majority of the millions of words I've probably written are mostly gone. I get three or four pages in, I hate it, it's not perfect, I delete it. Anything I do for myself, anything artistic, this always happens. I tried drawing a comic and I got one page in, hated how shitty my drawings were, didn't draw any more.

This is literally crippling me, because I can write very easily if it's an angry forum post about how much I hate myself. This has been astonishingly easy to write. But this isn't artistic, this isn't art, nobody looks at forum posts like art and I guess that's why it's so easy, because there's no pressure. You can't get paid for forum posts, you don't have people talking admiringly about forum posts. And it's really shitty that i only think about art in terms of how to get people to like me. Everything I do is in the service of what someone else might like, because I don't even have an objective opinion because said opinion revolves around what other people like. If someone else says they like something, doesn't matter what it is, unless it's like Mein Kampf or something that toxic, I'll enthusiastically like it. It's a complex. I've literally expressed open and public support for Donald Trump before because I was so terrified of being the one person in the room who had a different opinion. I hate Donald Trump! I hate everything he stands for! And yet I said nice things about him once because I was in a room full of white supremacist assholes! It's that bad!

And trying to talk to people about it is even worse, because all they'll say is "just do something, just start!" I can't even start! I'm stuck on the starting! I can't get three pages without hating it and deleting it! This is why I got in so much trouble at film school, because I would clearly be so ashamed of whatever I created, and it escalated to the point where I'd leave the room whenever my films were being shown because I was so terrified of hearing negative reactions, and then the teachers would start standing at the door and physically preventing me from leaving. And then they'd openly ask me in front of everyone why I never wanted to see my own stuff, why I never promoted it like everyone else did, when I'd hear them loudly talking in other classes about how my films are "example of what not to do" and showing them in other classes! No wonder I developed a fucking complex over that! I spent three goddamn years being told i was a sack of shit!

It's literally killing me inside, because every molecule in my body is begging me to create, but I can't do it, and I don't know how to do it, or how to even be happy with what I create. Nothing makes me angrier than watching people who like themselves talking enthusiastically about their musical compositions and paintings and all of that, they're so happy with it! They just create! And I can't! It's so fucking infuriating! I wish I could just be bad online and be happy with it, but I can't! I'm so fucking terrified! I'm terrified this forum post is shitty! Who judges a fucking forum post?! I'm literally going through it word by fucking word to make sure every one is perfect and I've changed so many words and phrases in this very forum post because it has to be perfect! I've literally deleted and rewritten paragraphs several times in this very forum post, so you will like it! Because it has to be perfect! And it's fucking killing me!

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Re: Being bad at art (or why 10,000 hours doesn't mean shit) [pseudo-rant]

Post by Datelessman on Mon Sep 10, 2018 3:13 pm

I can kind of understand this. Part of the reason why I haven't written much fan-fiction since college, besides the lack of spare time, is because I nitpick my own work to death.

Envy is a bad emotion to have and it gets worse when it festers. I hope your artistic friends are supportive and the anxiety you feel about sharing your work is not backed up by actual events. That said, nearly every artistic person has had someone, or many someone's, or instructors, or a combination who hated their work or an element of it. Art is subjective even if there are always basic rules to some crafts.

One thing I may suggest is exploring mediums. If writing and drawing are giving you difficulty, try sculpture or painting or another medium. Lord knows there are some modern or expressionist painting that many "don't get" and may look like paint splatters or random stuff, but others do appreciate it.

Another thing which may help is to understand your own patterns and sort of give yourself your own deadlines. For me, I know if I revise drafts too much I will never finish. So I often rarely do more than one or two, and when I revise it is mostly to fix spelling or grammar. I also, since 2009, have been writing articles for websites which usually means I have to produce a certain amount of product per week or month, which forces me to submit and not just meander. Many of these don't pay cash (and those that do don't pay much), but if you have a hobby or opinion or both intertwined you may be able to find something. And if not, you can start a tumblr or a blog. I have a blog where I exclusively focus on my relationship (or lack thereof) woes and I set a loose schedule for myself of 1-2 posts a month to keep myself writing.

And thirdly, make sure to harvest friends who are supportive without being judgmental. I have plenty of friends and associates who are better at artistic stuff than me (such as art or fictional writing), but those kind of pals in general are good.

Art, regardless of medium is about expressing emotion and passion. It can be tough to find a medium you are comfortable with. But you also have to allow yourself to experiment, and don't be your own worst critic.
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Re: Being bad at art (or why 10,000 hours doesn't mean shit) [pseudo-rant]

Post by The Mikey on Mon Sep 10, 2018 5:14 pm

That’s the struggle of every artist. Myself included.

We’re always our worst critics because we see every mistake we make and we know what we did that makes it “not good”. We know what we suck at when we draw. It’s a struggle for sure to make something actually look like what it’s supposed to be.

Much like my own dating struggles, I’m kind of awkward when I try to draw women too. I know I shouldn’t avoid drawing them, but I still do. Headsmack

Ultimately, the point I’m trying to make is that you need to keep going. Keep plugging away at it and show people if you’re inclined to and show it ONLY to people you know who actually WILL give you constructive criticism. Oh, is the perspective on a piece kinda wonky? Look up a reference photo and actually try to learn from it, don’t just copy it but try to understand why it looks that way. Are you having trouble with proportions? Read up on some anatomy books and study how to measure proportions with your pencil/pen/brush, do it enough times and you won’t even need to do that anymore.

I know folks will disagree but I’ve always said learning art and getting good at it is a process. It’s a long overly drawn out process, but it’s possible. I’ve been drawing since I was 6 years old, I’ve drawn some good shit and I’ve drawn some bad shit. I will never be Dan Luvisi, Craig Mullins, Peter Han or Kim Jung Gi, but goddamn it I won’t let that stop me from trying and in essence becoming myself.

There’s only one of you, don’t be afraid to try different styles or to imitate an artist you like. That’s what I do but I manage to acknowledge it as a total $artist rip-off as a way of me owning up to my influence.

Like Nike says, just do it. *swoosh*
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Re: Being bad at art (or why 10,000 hours doesn't mean shit) [pseudo-rant]

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