Fake it till you make it


Now that nature is ever so slowly making a transition towards autumn – I can’t believe I’m saying slowly, the summer has gone by like a Formula 1 – I find myself getting ready to change my activities too. I’ve been doing a lot more with the garden this year and some clearing away of stuff from the barn and yard; this has basically set back all of my creative pursuits, in fact I didn’t even get started on the ponies yet either (They’ve been on a very long break while I was on sick leave for over a year).

Of course I’ve been plant dyeing all summer, but I see that as a different kind of creative, more like a science project. While I think I would have done quite well in research of some other type (except it didn’t occur to me* until recently, so that’s another botched career 😉 ), I do get fed up with the chemistry bit. I still have stuff I want to do, some is urgent before my woad, weld and indigo get too cold, but it’s not my main focus anymore. No, I am of course talking about all the artsy fartsy craft stuff.

The problem for me is always getting back after a break. I get all restless and frustrated, so angry I could spit, even, that I don’t have time and people are bothering me and if only I lived on a deserted island I could finally get down to creating masterpieces 12 hours a day. What happens if I do get a week on my own? I get headaches or cramps. I zone out and click the interwebs. I get really tired and take naps. I daydream, I read books. Go pull a few thistles. Have coffee to wake up and start up Photoshop and Writer and pull out my inspiration folder and then go click blogs and Ravelry until I’m ready for another nap. I’ve been talking about procrastination several times and after a break it always hits me bad.

It’s not that I haven’t got any ideas I could work on, I just seem to think that – I don’t know what I’m thinking actually, everything just feels sluggish and outside of my grasp somehow. I mentioned 2 months ago about doing chores first and then being too tired for the fun bits, well, that still applies. Except now I seem to be slowing down on both counts. I must be needing a break and I suppose I ought to listen….

So, during the meanwhile, I’d like to figure out what to do to get on another roll. I don’t care if it happens to be spinning, weaving, painting (which I’m leaning towards) or writing, I just want to get cracking. I’ve done all the things I’ve previously suggested, so I need a new trick.

Some people say you should simply pretend to be making art until you are. Or pretend to be some person you admire and then go do what you imagine that person would do. I’m not much of an actress, I can’t even lie properly, but I suppose as long as I’m only imposting in my own head it’ll be alright. Right? (I can’t stand fake happy and chirpy; I’m not grumpy, just not very exalted most of the time) But you know, whenever I do get out my paints and just do something without being “there”, nothing interesting ever happens. I don’t suddenly fall into the flow, from pretending to create to actually doing it, I really do feel like I’m just faking, doing uninspired and completely useless exercises, and by the way the laundry needs to be put out to dry.

Apparently I can’t even fake something properly! And then we all know the next step, don’t we. “It’s no use, it’s not like I’ll ever develop any talent in my lifetime anyway”. “Needing space and quiet before I can create is just an excuse to hide that I can’t do it at all”. “It probably isn’t what I’m meant to be doing”. “Wasting my time, wasting my life”. – “Hey, wait a minute, that’s not the story I wanted to fake!”

Does faking really work for the larger multitude, ie do I just suck at it, or is it simply that pep-talks don’t work for more than 5 minutes on average? Faking is supposed to work without believing I think, which is good, because I suck at faith too. Otoh I have no trouble believing all the dark secrets about myself, the uselessness, unworthiness, ugliness etc. I know I’m not the only one, I just think it’s amazingly impractical that we should be hardwired to support all the negative stuff like that.

My intuition is telling me NOTHING of where I should be going right now. But staying put also doesn’t feel very fantastic. So I keep pushing even though I can tell I’m not doing it the right way. Maybe life’s simply not meant to be fantastic… But I’m not sure I can put up with that for very long. That would in fact, be faking it bigtime, and we already established that I suck at that.

Ok, I’m not even sure where I’m going with this piece. I’ll just press the button and move on now. Have a great weekend all! I’ll either be hauling straw bales or visiting a sheep market.

* strangely enough, since I’ve always been the one to bury myself in piles of books in a quiet corner, taking notes and attempting to suck up any and all data of my chosen subject. Some of my friends even complain that they can’t ask me a simple question on horsefeed for example, because I give them a whole lecture where they just wanted a name. Yes, I would have made an excellent geek, I even have the dress sense to match!

20 thoughts on “Fake it till you make it

  1. Kære Pia, hvor er det morsomt. Den sætning jhar ogsÃ¥ snurret rundt i mit hoved hele formiddagen, og jeg nÃ¥ede til den konklusion at det vist ikke virkede pÃ¥ mig. Jeg falder hele tiden ud af rollen. Jeg er ogsÃ¥ fuld af ugidelighed og overspringshandlinger nu, sommeren gÃ¥r pÃ¥ hæld. Åhh stop tiden, sÃ¥ denne vidunderlige eftersommer varer en mÃ¥neds tid mere …

  2. here I have been jealously admiring all that you have been getting done this summer . I miss dyeing yarns in the garden this year so I have been reading your posts and reminding myself next summer the dog will be healed so we can make the long drive to the cabin where I dye then I can have adventures in color along with you.

    1. You’re right of course that I should also appreciate what I already have accomplished, and I do. I guess I just have this urge to constantly make things.

  3. I love how real you are with your thoughts. I think we all go through our own versions of what you described, so thanks for putting it out there. Any your work is really beautiful..so I vote you go to a sheep market this weekend and just enjoy it!!

    1. Sheep market probably would be a good distraction. We’ll see what the farmer says about the straw. When they’re ready, you simply obey, LOL.

  4. “Otoh I have no trouble believing all the dark secrets about myself, the uselessness, unworthiness, ugliness etc. I know I’m not the only one, I just think it’s amazingly impractical that we should be hardwired to support all the negative stuff like that.”

    I just wrote a post (that is most unbravely tucked in my drafts) that says almost exactly the same thing. Brains, WTF?

    My intuition is telling me to tell you that you shouldn’t worry so much about creating ART, but rather just creating… something, anything. Why does it need to be art? That comes wrapped up in so many preconceived assumptions of what real (or good) art is. If you are feeling the need to be artistic but also sabotaging that by pulling thistles and stacking hay bales, maybe you could gently and PLAYFULLY combine the two. Pull the thistles and then arrange the stems into some interesting design on the grass or front steps. Stack hay in an interesting pattern or at a jaunty angle. Balance some rocks on the side of a path. Let your distractions be creative play. Let the creations be impermanent. Who cares if it’s serious art or not? It’s better than feeling bad. By the way, this pep talk is for both of us. We’re rowing the same boat right now. Hugs. 😀

    1. I love the idea of piling rocks or doing something with leaves and twigs. I could even turn that into a photo project. It’s not that it ALL has to be “art”, but I do like to be doing and seeing something that I can enjoy, I guess we’re talking about fear of failure this time… But yeah, anything fun is better than feeling crummy. As Seth Godin says, just keep shipping.

      The straw bales I think I’m just going to be practical about, LOL, the hay loft is not that big and I think my thrower would get impatient if I stop to consider “angles”.

      Hugs right back at ya!

  5. Pia,
    I was going through nearly this exact cycle a few months back. It’s so hard to fake it, I think, because we know what it feels like to not fake it, and after you know genuine creation, it’s hard to pretend like pretending’s enough. (Whew! Say that five times fast!)

    If I knew the secret to successfully seducing the muse, I’d be a zillionaire. For now, all I have are bookish recommendations. (Probably you own most of these, since you are an artist, but I’ll lay them out, anyhow).

    “The Artist’s Way” by Julia Cameron
    “The Confident Woman” by Marjorie Hansen Shaevitz – this came to me when you were discussing how it’s so easy to believe that bad stuff about us. She specifically addresses this. The book is a little dated, but I’ve found it to be really, really helpful in doing exactly what it says: creating confidence in myself and work. I’m only halfway through it right now.
    Almost anything by Sark, especially “Succulent Wild Woman” and “Make Your Creative Dreams Real”
    Leonie Dawson’s Blog (all the posts on creativity)

    and that’s all I can think of for now. I know you didn’t ask for these so obviously I understand if reading about creativity is the last thing you want to do, but I felt inspired to share anyway. Hope this is at least somewhat helpful.


    1. Anything you’d like to share is great – even if occasionally some of the stuff might not be exactly “me”. I think it’s mostly a confidence thing right now, as well as fatigue (I had a couple of emotionally rough weeks ahead of this), not so much an artists /idea block as such. Julia Cameron I’ve seen a while back and meant to repeat at some point, Shaevitz I’ll look up! Sark I think is perhaps a teeny bit too perky and tootsie-frootsie for me, but I haven’t read any of her actual books yet. 🙂

      I think you’re right about not being able to fake it when you know what the real thing feels like. And it’s never something you can force directly.

      1. Oooh yeah, I know Sark isn’t for everyone (and neither is Leonie, who runs along a similar vein). In Sark’s defense, I’ll say that her books aren’t as fluffy as they appear– she was abused as a child, spent much of her adult life in poverty, so a lot of this comes in her words as transformation-through-creativity. As for Leonie, I signed up for her newsletter, then found myself ever-annoyed at her fragmented writing style, brushed her off as a Sark-wannabe, but somehow, couldn’t completely unsubscribe for the the email– and soon enough, I’d been swept into her charm, which is colorful like Sark, as well as brutally honest like Sark, but that’s where their similarities end, really. I find her unbelievably inspiring now.

        Anyway, I know it’s all not for everyone! But as I can never leave well alone, here is yet another comment for you! x

        1. I love comments. 🙂 And it’s an interesting conversation. I think some of my reserve is cultural. American women are much more expressive with their feelings than we are. Lots of oooh and aaahs and ohmyGods in a high voice when they get excited, LOL. Over here that seems a bit much and perhaps comes over as fake, even. Then put me way out on the other end of the scale, being accused of aloofness (when really I’m not, it’s just that my feelings seem to happen more on the inside), then you can see how I find the Sarks of the world a bit “much” ( I saw some videos). There’s cute and there’s nauseatingly sugarsweet, you know? I simply can’t tell the difference between genuine and acting when it comes to this particular type of behaviour. I’m like, yeah, it’s fine, I already said so 😉 I’m not being judgmental, I just don’t think I could function in a crowd of Leonies and Sarks, even though I might actually like them.

          1. That is interesting! I never really knew that was how American women could be /are perceived. The media certainly plays into it, I imagine, but I think we as a whole are more expressive. And it’s something that’s encouraged, seen as good and positive, which is why introverts like me often feel seriously out of place.

            I know what you mean by nauseatingly sugarsweet, too. And I don’t know if I could function in that crowd, either!

  6. I am so with you Pia. I can’t fake it either, it simply doesn’t work. Like you I am still trying to push through because I can’t find any other solution. But that’s not doing it either.

    And no amount of reading about it seems to help for me right now.

    So I have no suggestions, but if I find something that works I promise you’ll be the first to hear about it!

    1. Today I did my one thing on the list and then I took a long nap, despite the amazing late summer weather. I plan to do so again tomorrow. Tonight, I’ll watch an episode of the Doctor.

  7. Like an earlier commenter, I too have been admiring your amazing dyeing productivity this summer, especially as I know fatigue continues to be a problem for you. I don’t really have any constructive advice for your, just sympathy – I too have been having a creativity crisis this year, I had great plans and expectations, all to do with making pictures with textiles, but it’s just not progressing right at this moment, I just don’t have the stamina and the brain power for it right now, the essential housework plus the garden just suck out all the energy I have. So I definitely feel you.

    But one thought about trying to fake it: to me it seems very similar to just pushing yourself, revving the engine without being able to get anywhere, which I know in the battle against fatigue just doesn’t work. So perhaps the solution is, rather counter-intuitively, to do nothing? Given that creativity feeds on mental space, I wonder if after a busy summer of gardening, dyeing etc you need a period of recharging your batteries for a few weeks, give yourself the permission to read anything you like, procrastinate as much as you like, do nothing if you like? Just give yourself a bit of space, concentrate on feeding the creative soul inside you, not worrying about the output for a moment – trusting that the output will come when the moment is right.

    1. Thanks for your comment! You definitely have some great pointers there. Pushing and wanting are in fact resistance.

      At the moment I’m doing simple and slow tasks that match the transition of the seasons. Getting my dried dye plants out of the woodshed into bags for storage, lingering here at the computer tying yarn skeins, soaking the last of the free fleece, pony baths, picking tomatoes, gathering seeds for a swap, reading in the garden to enjoy the last warm weather etc.

      I thought I’d be painting a lot in summer while the light was good, but really, the colder seasons are much more suited for it because you’re indoors anyway.

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