Are you aware of your own creative seasons? For me, this was a tough thing to grasp.
My lettering career started when I was mulling around a bookstore and came across a book called “Calligraphy in 24 Hours”. I figured “what the hell, this could be a fun weekend project” — very ironic to look back upon.
Anyway, I bought the book and when I got home, I flipped to the section with the blackletter alphabet. I started copying the letters with a Sharpie and before I knew it, the entire day had flown by. The realization that I loved making letters hit me like a ton of bricks. A new hobby was born!
Fast forward to months down the line when I found myself attempting to learn other styles and trying new tools. I was absorbing all of the YouTube tutorials I could find. I eventually got to the point where I was overwhelming myself because the more I focused on one type of lettering, the less I focused on all of the others.
If you’re passionate about lettering and are actively growing your skills, you’ve likely found yourself in a similar situation. You feel as if by dedicating energy towards one specific aspect, you’re neglecting other aspects of your creativity — or even other aspects of your life.
The situation gets even more complicated if you have other hobbies or take on new obligations (like blogging!).
The reality is that even if you had all the time and motivation in the world, you still wouldn’t have enough energy to accomplish everything.
One Thing at a Time
Picture yourself cooking a meal for a large group of people all by yourself. You’re running around the kitchen prepping ingredients to prepare all of the sides while cooking the main course. You’re also trying to clean up as you go, set plates, pour drinks etc. Then when it comes time to eat, the meal sucks. The main course is overdone, the sides are cold, the rolls are burnt, and the drinks aren’t strong enough.
Welcome to my dinner parties.
But seriously, there was nothing about that meal that you weren’t capable of cooking amazingly. The issue was that you split your efforts across all aspects of the meal at once and in the end, nothing came out right.
Human beings are not good at multi-tasking.
Short term or long term, that’s just the unfortunate reality. The more we divide our focus, the less efficient we become. As a creative, it’s important to make sure that your focus is narrow. Otherwise, it’s just time wasted.
Every season, the weather changes. Depending on your climate, the difference between seasons may be more or less drastic. In the winter, we dress differently because the weather is cooler. If you live in a place where it gets really cold, you might go skiing or snowboarding — but going to the beach wouldn’t be appropriate.
Think of your creative endeavors like seasons. Your interests will change beyond your control and you need to devote as much focus as possible to the interests that are best serving you at that point in time. Unlike the four seasons in a year, yours might be longer, or shorter. But they will happen, and recognizing this fact will help you adapt comfortably.
If you look through my blog archive, you’ll notice several different seasons from this past year. For example, I did a bunch of client work this past year and spent a season curating my professional process. The engagements were fun, the money was good, and I happened to learn a great deal. I eventually got to a point where I felt like I wasn’t actually creating much because I was so focused on the client site of things. I then entered a new season that was oriented more towards creating than client work.
Back in March, I was all about Copperplate Script. I devoted a substantial amount of time towards that. Then one day, my interests started to evolve. Now, for the past two months, I’ve been all about Blackletter. This will eventually change too. I’m sure I’ll come back to both of them at some point, and when I least expect it, an opportune client project will fall into my lap. It’s happened many times before — and it will happen again.
Everyone goes through different seasons in their lives, whether they know it or not. However, being aware of these seasons is a great way to reflect on your creative journey. If you begin to see patterns emerging, you might learn something about yourself that you didn’t know.
Embracing Your Current Creative Season
If your work is deviating from what you were doing a couple months ago, don’t beat yourself up for not staying consistent. This is pointless. Instead, follow your heart and focus on the thing that interests you the most. This isn’t an excuse to neglect the obligations that you’ve committed to. But, there’s nothing wrong with going with the natural flow of things.
Be the best you that you can be based on your current fixations. And when the path changes, don’t stop the journey.
- Your interests will change and evolve, and you will enter different creative “seasons”.
- These seasons can make you feel like you’re slipping or being torn in two directions.
- Embracing the current season as much as possible will serve you better than trying to split your focus.