The wood and knife is one with your hands, the spoon hiding inside the blank is slowly but surely revealing itself to you. The material is almost taking the decisions for you, wood chip by wood chip. You’re in the flow…
Then suddenly, a wrong cut, an unwise decision. It’s now impossible for this piece of wood to become the spoon it was meant to be. Snap, the flow is gone. Frustration takes it place. You begin to question your own abilities…
I recently read about some ways to deal with this kind of artistic frustration, and thought I’d share. The first step is to not try to avoid the frustration, rather to understand where it’s coming from.
Separating our emotions from what we create
Creating something from “inside” ourselves is an emotional experience, and we often place our worth on what we create. So when we do well, we feel proud and happy, and when we (according to ourselves) fail, we suffer because our identity gets hurt. Perhaps we even try to hide our work from others. But we must learn to separate our work from our emotions, and risk failure in order to learn something new.
Anything that’s worth doing comes with a risk of failure.
We are not what we create
If we limit the risks we take, we limit our artistic growth. We can hope for success, sure, but we should be prepared that failure is a possibility. And that’s OK, because we are not what we create. The spoons and tools that we create are products, and they don’t always reflect our level of skill or our potential because not every day is our best day. They are part of the journey.
Frustration is a sign of growth
We often get frustrated when we are about to learn something new or level up our skills. When starting to feel frustrated, rather than forcing the work in order to “get it done”, try taking a break and coming back to it a bit later with fresh eyes. This can help to avoid bad decisions. And when we rest our minds a bit, it’s easier to objectively evaluate what we are doing well and what we can improve.
Feeling overwhelmed? Don’t quit.
The easy way out is to quit, but most work can be saved. We can fix a mistake and carry on. From time to time, an item is beyond saving, then we can learn from it and put it away.
Success can be defined in so many ways. One way to think about it is as Victory over Adversity – taking a risk, facing the challenges, working through them and coming out the other end a little wiser. And sometimes with a really nice new spoon or tool in hand.
Cover image by: @phoenixcreationstas