What we think will happen is not always what happens. Part of being an artist is accepting that being wrong is okay. It’s part of the fun of our work! The feeling of being wrong is a pleasant surprise. We turn mistakes into art.
“To live a creative life we must first lose the fear of being wrong.”
Joseph Chilton Pearce, author focused on human development
Tip 1: Appreciate Effort
Overconfidence effect. Confidence is great! Overconfidence is a psychological bias. Accept any outcome. Being wrong is part of the creative process.
Try this: Focus on how awesome it is that you tried. Effort means more than outcomes. If you don’t try, your chance at success is zero
Tip 2: Know What Your Control
The illusion of control. We tend to believe we control things that we have no power over. When we have control, we tend to not recognize it.
Try this: Focus on what you can control. There may be opportunities there
Tip 3: Plan for the Unexpected
Planning fallacy. We think we work fast and that tasks are quicker than we are.
Try this: Give yourself way more time than you need.
Tip 4: Be realistic
Wishful thinking. We tend to believe the things we want to happen will happen. So many of us enjoy the fun of thinking the lottery would solve our problems. Know it’s just for fun
Try this: Prepare for disappointment and know that you can handle it. If your drawing doesn’t work out, find some silver linings.
Tip 5: Be okay with a lot of different results
I loved the book Decisive by Chip and Dan Heath. I wrote more about it in “How do I make more rational decisions? 4 Steps“. We often make very narrow guesses. We guess it’ll rain any minute. If I said it’ll rain within the next year, I’m almost certainly right.
Try this: Plan for what is likely. So with my drawing, I might feel down that I don’t have time to draw today or tomorrow. I can guess that I’ll draw again sometime this month. Even better, when I am drawing I’ll know to focus and take advantage of every minute
Tip 6: Know when to revisit a decision
Another idea from the book Decisive: set a tripwire. Maybe working on my art is a low priority with everything involved with having friends, exercise, a job, and everything else I have going on. When I haven’t spent any time on my art in a few weeks, however, I might have to make more of a commitment to drawing.
Try this: Decide when to revisit your decisions. If you have a painting that just isn’t working out, are you going to work on it for 15 more minutes, an hour, or a month? When is it time to think about starting over?
Tip 7: Prepare for the worst
A false dilemma is when we think we must choose between two alternatives when both are possible. You need a safety net in all of your decisions. What will you do if nothing works out? Chances are you’ll figure something out no matter what. A very hard decision can be made much easier by having a safety net. If your goal is to be a gallery artist, developing skills that you can fall back on isn’t a cop out. You’ll be a less stressed artist know that everything isn’t riding on it.
Try this: Know when you can “Do both.” When you’re making a hard decision, find ways you can have things both ways. You can both be an artist and put some time developing other skills. Want to work on two types of art? Do it! Your life is both longer and shorter than you think.
Brian E. Young is a graphic designer and artist in Baltimore, MD.