This month has been exhausting and yet I am grateful for the things I have accomplished. I finished my book — the third draft — after years of trying and failing and dreaming and praying and setting goals and forgetting goals and trying again. Throughout the process I’ve learnt what it means to really stick to a hard task even when it feels like only a miracle could see me through. Most of all, I’ve learnt how to be patient.
I think the most important ability we can develop throughout the creative process is patience. We need to be patient with ourselves. We need to accept that a masterpiece doesn’t happen overnight and for most it takes years of practice before true success comes. What I mean by “true success” is the satisfaction that comes when you’ve done something that you feel meets or even surpasses your own expectations. I mean success defined by your own standards and the work you’ve produced, not what others think or say.
It’s so easy to give up in the beginning when the work you’ve sacrificed time to create fails to meet the standards you’ve set for yourselves. I’ve felt this inner struggle often. Sometimes I would stare at a page — fat with words and bold ambition, characters that almost shone but never quite became what I’d hoped — and I’d just feel so discouraged. I’d think of the greats like Zora Neale Hurston and all the other writers that had moved me and wonder why I couldn’t quite get it right.
It’s this very feeling — the fear that I’ll never quite do the things I envision — that made me procrastinate working on my novel’s third draft a few months ago. But shaking off these debilitating fears was just the thing I needed to do and with the help of supportive friends (big up to Robyn) and family I was able to fight the good fight. 🙂
And though my novel still isn’t perfect and I sometimes cringe at the idea of anyone seeing it and calling me out for being a novice — well, at least I can say I met my goal and I’m still on the journey, no turning back in sight.
I hope you too will learn to be patient with yourself, whether you’ve recently began learning a skill or you’ve been struggling for years. Remember that you’re on a journey and what matters most is that you stick to it and give all you have to give. Be grateful for friends and family members that support you on the way. And in the moments you feel you are failing think of the greats in your field; know that like you, they aren’t perfect. They too have had their struggles but stuck to the journey nonetheless.
P.S. I came across a video that I think will inspire creative folks to stay on the journey and be patient with themselves. Please see below.