Wednesday, August 8, 2012

Self-Doubt and Sleeplessness

I was out reading blogs today; haven't had much time for that in the past few weeks, but today I was out surfing my usual spots.  My dear friend, Delayne of Mayfaire, raised some interesting questions about artists and self-doubt that had me reflecting and commenting.  Since I haven't blogged in a while myself, I thought I would tackle the subject here.

Here's her original post:

I believe many artists have type A personalities.  We have to be self-motivated in order to do what we do; to voluntarily stick our necks out into traffic and honk our horns for the world to see.  We also have to be a little crazy, but that's a subject for another day.

I'm usually in love with each piece of jewelry I make, as I design it, but later when I put a price on it, it doesn't always measure up to the love I felt for it when it was a newborn.  Is that because time has passed and I'm more objective?  Or because it really isn't as unique and wonderful as I originally thought? 

Turning inspiration and ideas into objects isn't an exact science.  I  imagine all sorts of wonderful creations in my head that somehow don't translate well into reality with my limited skills and bead stash.  I see jewelry all the time on Etsy that I wish I had made, luscious, colorful, gorgeous pieces with character and complexity.  When I compare my final results to those superior pieces, I'm always dissatisfied with my own work.

I study those other artist's works, the craftmanship, the cut and quality of materials and the details of each design.  Why can't I do what they do?  Why isn't my jewelry as beautiful or unique as theirs?

I've heard that question countless times from others who are just starting out, and I always have an encouraging answer for them:  in time, you will find your unique voice, your niche.  It just takes time.  We all feel doubt to some degree or another.  We all compare ourselves and our work to those around us. 

Will the self-doubt ever go away?  Not so much.  But we can live with a little doubt as long as it inspires us to improve our talents, learn new methods, hone our craft. 

I think self-doubt is a necessary evil.  As long as we don't take it personal.  As long as we don't obssess over it and reduce ourselves to defeated whimps.  I believe we have the ultimate power because we can choose how to react to doubt and fear.  We can learn from it and dismiss it, or we can be ruled and silenced by it.

This is where we really show our type A personalities, because most of us continue to make art.  Most of us don't have a choice because art chose us, and no matter how inadequate to the task we might feel, creating art is as necessary to our well-being as water and oxygen.

As long as we sell a piece now and then, we know there are others who think our art is of value, so that soothes a little of the self-doubt.

Will we get rich?  Will we sell out our entire stock at the next show?  Will publication bring fame and prosperity?

Probably not, but the odds aren't quite as bad as winning the lottery.

As for insomnia, I used to toss and turn a lot, too, but my favorite anti-depressant takes care of that now. 

My trick with my inner Mean Girl?  She can only give me constructive feedback.  Then I feed her chocolate and chase her away!

Happy trails!


  1. Laurel, big hugs and thankyous for not only mentioning my blog post but for sharing your thoughts about it here. This whole self-doubt thing is something I've wrestled with forever (and still do).

    Over the years I've encountered some artists who seem (to me) to be so amazingly confident that I wonder just what the heck is wrong with me that I can't hold MYself and MY work on such a lofty pedestal. (It doesn't have to be a lofty pedestal, or even a pedestal; I'd be happy if I could just elevate it at all! LOL)

    Like you, I start off loving my creation when it's born but then I cave when it comes time to display it or put a price on it. If those confident artists are plagued with self-doubt, too, they hide it very well.

    I hope your blog post helps create a dialogue, Laurel. It means a lot to me to hear from other artists on this topic.

    Love you!

  2. What we do is lay our hearts open to the world. That takes a lot of bravery!

    I think it's easier for me to give value to my jewelry because of the raw materials I use. I can price it based on the gemstones, pearls and crystals that I use.

    You are a real artist who makes beautiful drawings out of paper and pencil/ink. Your art is all you.

    You have a real talent, and God didn't give you this talent to hide it under a bush.

    When I was young and insecure, I realized the awesome truth that God doesn't make junk. That's where I learned to value my life. It's the same thing with your talent. Not everyone can draw; value it as a gift, hone and perfect it and show it off for the world to see.

    Celebrate it!

    Love you too!


  3. Laurel,
    What a fabulous blog you have created! You are a very talented and dedicated artist in more ways than just through your jewelery. You have a very unique way with words as well!!

    You amaze me-when I think that I have known you for 25 years, I feel that I just learned about a very intimate part of you that I may have never known before.

    Keep up the great work with your jewelry and please continue to write more of those wonderful words!

    Love you my friend!


    1. Thank you for YOUR lovely words, my friend! I've always loved to write, and there's no greater pleasure for a writer than knowing her humble thoughts and opinions are appreciated!

      May the dialogue continue!

      Love you too, my friend!