You know that feeling you get when you finally have the time to start some new project or work and you sit in front of the blank canvas, or the music sequencer, or the word processor, or the programming IDE and you just cannot make a move? You can’t start. I hate that feeling.
Sometimes, the way around pfaffage is to do displacement activities. Choose colours, arrange your paint brushes, download a new software instrument, surf the web, whatever. Unfortunately the displacement activity sometimes actually displaces the activity (the clue is in the name) and you wind up getting nowhere with your project. That leaves you feeling unhappy, frustrated and even a little mad at yourself. You had the chance and you blew it. You usually have good ideas and this time you couldn’t even get one. What is WRONG with you?
I think I may have found a better way of dealing with pfaffage. In the first place, setting time limits to your creative time definitely motivates you to stop wasting your precious creative time. But more powerful than this is the following, which occurred to me by accident when I was late for an art class one night:
I had no idea what I was going to paint. I barely had enough time to set up my easel and paints. I was really late. I had to get on with it. So, rather than dwelling on the blankness of the canvas and my mind, I fell into the mode of thinking mechanically. What would an artist do? An artist would make a mark. Let’s just make a mark. With what? With some colour. Any colour. Choose a colour that leaps out of the box at you. What kind of mark? A mark that looks like the subject. Just do it. Now. Make it an artistic mark. You can do it. You’re an artist.
You’re an artist! That was the key!
What kind of mark would an artist make? Well, an artistic one, of course! Can I do that? Yes of course I can – I’m an artist. I cannot help but make an artistic mark. That’s what artists do. They can’t do anything but. It’s what people expect.
So that’s what worked for me. Know that you are what you aspire to be, When you think that way, then you are the artist you want to be. As that artist, whatever you do will be what an artist does. How can it not? Approach a blank canvas in the way an artist does, knowing that you are one and you will not find the need to hesitate. You may pause for reflection, but that is an entirely different thing to the self doubt and fear of failure that terrifies so many of us into never starting. Be what you are. If you are an artist, be an artist.