Sometimes I wish I was an accountant or something like that. Ignoring the fact that I only got 4 marks on one of my A-Level Maths papers, and have absolutely no aptitude for working with figures, I feel like the processes accountants work through would all be very clear & tangible, something that is missing from my life completely. (Also, I might be completely wrong about accountants as I imagine what their job involves based on zero actual knowledge of accountancy, but I think you know what I mean.)
Being a creative, as fortunate as I feel to be doing something that for the most part I love, is a huge struggle sometimes. It really is a rollercoaster ride - incredible satisfaction and joy, followed by a huge descent into confusion and misery. But it seems to me that it’s pretty universal, and it doesn’t matter how long you’ve been doing it, or how successfully, most creatives seem to follow a similar pattern. Whether it’s a long cycle spread over years or short, snappy mood flips in the day-to-day: it’s there. The struggle is real.
And there’s no easy way to escape the low points. It’s not so much a problem that can be solved, as much as a crappy part of the job you have to work with. But when I find myself in the “I am a giant failure” phase of my process, these are 3 things that help me out... a lot:
1. I’ll get the wankiest one out of the way first - honour the shit hours/days/weeks as part of your process. Because they really are. It really is like that rollercoaster I mentioned above, and sometimes being propelled downwards at great speed can help you build up the momentum to reach the next high.
2. Save some easy, mind numbing jobs for when you really can’t face doing anything else - stuffing envelopes, putting pins on backs, going through and rewriting your product descriptions. You might not be designing your next great success BUT you can at least ease the self-loathing in the knowledge that you are doing something useful.
3. Try really hard not to let your creative professional misery spill over into the rest of your life. If you have a shitty, unproductive day, know when to switch off. Don’t try and extend your working hours endlessly into your personal time until you finally snap out of it. You’ll just make yourself feel worse and probably prolong the funk.
Enjoy the highs, ride out the lows and above all remember it's not just you. Reach out to your creative friends, we're all on the same journey.
P.S. I would like to point out that this post isn't a cynical marketing ploy to get you to buy the print that inspired it, but if you do want to buy it, you can do so here, or grab the little postcard version here.