perfection paralyses

Anxiety and the creative process

perfection paralyses

I have had issues with anxiety all my life. Anxiety makes me work very hard, sometimes it stops me being able to work.

Getting started

Not being able to get started. This can happen for reasons other than laziness, or bad time management. I read a great phrase that resonated with me, ‘perfectionism paralyses’. Whereby the desire to create something that must be perfect, can lead to an inability to start the project, an inability to work. It’s a very destructive train of thought. A swift Google linking it to anxiety disorders and various other psychological issues.

There is a more positive lesser version that drives most creatives. To never be entirely satisfied with what you create, therefor the current project is the most important which keeps the creative brain striving forward, always trying to improve. It’s when it becomes a negative energy it becomes a problem.

The wheels on the bus go…

I came up with a way to deal with this when I was younger. If my art stopped, and I couldn’t work. Through too much anxiety or my brain overloaded with pressure, I imagined my art, or creativity, as a bus. It didn’t matter how slow the bus moved, as long as the wheels were moving even very slowly. Then everything would be okay. And whenever the wheels of the bus started moving, it always sped up again, picking up momentum, and all was good with my world.

The task could be, ‘do a ten minute drawing today, and nothing else’. That’s all it would take to get the bus moving.

Nothing new under the sun

I have since realised there are many inspirational quotes that relate to this. Far more concise and to the point. More perfect than my bus metaphor.

“The journey of a thousand miles begins with one step” – Lao Tzu (601 BC)

“Big things have small beginnings” – T. E. Lawrence in Lawrence of Arabia

“Great things are not done by impulse, but by a series of small things brought together” – Vincent Van Gogh

” The secret of getting ahead is getting started. The secret of getting started is breaking complex overwhelming tasks into manageable tasks, and then starting on the first one”. – Mark Twain

So it’s nothing new, and it’s very common in all aspects of life. So sit down and write a list of what needs to be done. Then work out what needs to be done first, and do it.

Iain Cameron is a freelance designer and illustrator based in Copenhagen. About me.