Act First, Then Edit (Why Mood Follows Action)
Why Imperfect Action Is Better Than No Action At All
If you’re reading this you likely are struggling with taking action on a certain aspect of your life or creative journey. As artists, we tend to overthink and analyze things, over research, and at times have a bit of a failure to launch. Let’s go over some actionable steps to get you back on track your creative pursuit!
Mood Follows Action! Act First, Then Edit
As the title suggests, imperfect action is better than no action at all. It is so easy for us to avoid doing "the thing". Whatever that thing is for you. Giving into our arched nemesis aka resistance is what holds us back from work. Success is just a series of small wins sandwiched between losses that over time compound into success. No different than life - a series of small decisions strung together over the course of weeks, months, and years are what ultimately make up your life and who you are as a person.
So how does one consistently show up and do the work? You act first, then edit. You submerge yourself in execution and don’t even acknowledge resistance as an option. In order to do this, you need discipline. Consistent discipline. Over time, that muscle will strengthen and make doing the work much easier. But after all it is work. Don’t be afraid to roll up your sleeves and get to it! And don’t be afraid to get out of your own way.
Do you often procrastinate? Finding anything else in the world to do besides go get into your studio and create? Well, you don't have a procrastination problem, you have a procrastinate habit. Just like habits aren't built in a day, they sure as heck aren't fixed in a day. It takes consistency!
Focus On Progress Not Perfection
Remember that line about success just being a series of wins sandwiched between several losses? Had we stopped at a couple losses, the result would be failure. Think about that.
So how do we succeed? We keep going. We show up again and again and again. The best way I have found to be able to do this is to focus on progress and not perfection. Trying to make that perfect painting or design or clay bowl is likely going to result in some unnecessary frustration. Instead, turn your attention towards progress. Remember why you create in the first place. When you analyze something beautiful you can destroy it. Relax, have a laugh and be gentle with yourself.
What small wins can you celebrate? Did you blend your colors better today than yesterday? Finish a painting sooner than expected? Where can you find small little wins throughout your process that you can identify as progress? Highlight those! Write them down. (link to my custom art journals if you need one)!
Progress, progress, progress. Keep your sights there and you will consistently get closer to that idea of perfection.
I’ve talked a lot about being less precious and more productive in my YouTube videos as well as other blog articles. Produce a ton of work! More than you’re comfortable with. Why? For one, it helps you create health habits of acting first and then editing. Sometimes in order to produce a lot of work, you have to level up a bit. You have to work faster. The faster you work, the less you think. The less you think, the more you act. It's a positive feedback loop that will only serve you in the end!
Once you’ve got that down, the focus then has to become the progress that we’ve already talked about. As you keep your intentions towards progress and not perfection you now need to refine productivity.
Some of the greatest artists in history produced massive bodies of work. So next time you don’t feel like working in the studio, hop in there and do something.
Clean brushes, vacuum, add some plants - show up for your creative space every single day in a disciplined way. Treat it like a job with specific hours and hold yourself accountable. If you can’t keep promises to yourself, who can you keep promises to?
This may have been a bit of a rant and possibly a bit redundant. I know too many artists, myself included at times, that need to hear this message! I hope that this helped someone out there. Remember that mood follows action. If you are not "feeling" creative or like creating... get your butt into your studio and create anyways! I promise the act of creating will generate a much better mood for you.
Happiness and success are progress, not perfection and most people never start because they are afraid of failure. It's never going to be perfect - so just start now!
Drop me a comment below on any thoughts, feelings, or examples of ways you get stuck in the studio. I would love to hear from you!