As children grow, they have growth spurts. Out of nowhere, they are suddenly ravenous. They eat and eat and eat and eat. As a parent, you get used to feeding them extra at every meal, and in-between meals, and in-between the in-between meals.
And then, one day, they aren’t hungry. Instead of wanting seconds, they’re picking at their firsts. Instead of being hungry, they sleep. They fall asleep on the couch watching cartoons. They sleep in late in the morning. They go to bed on time. They sleep and sleep and sleep and sleep.
And then none of their clothes fit, and you realize that all the strange behavior was actually quite normal. They just had a growth spurt.
I think that there are creative growth spurts. Just like kids don’t grow steadily, one millimeter a week or something, talent improves at an inconsistent rate. That doesn’t mean that practice should be inconsistent. Talent relies on regular meals just like children do.
It does mean that when you are drawing along, doing what you normally do, things can change out of nowhere. Suddenly, the lines go all funny and everything just isn’t working right, and all of your self-confidence can go right out the window.
Why can’t I draw anymore? Why does everything look terrible today/this week/this month? Growth spurt. In my experience, if you keep practicing despite the terrible results, eventually you’ll come through to the other side. Everything starts to work out again. Things look better than they have in a while.
At this point, you may feel like you’ve returned to wherever you were before and the bad day/week/month was just you feeling off or rushing through things or something. But, I think if you compare your new normal to your old normal, the new normal may be a little bit better than it was before.
That’s my growth spurt theory. Is it always true? I don’t know. Probably not. There are probably times where you are just sick or rushing things or something.
However, on days when I’m trying really hard and nothing seems to come out right, it is comforting to know that maybe this is just a normal part of the creative process. And, instead of being a bad thing, it may mean good things are coming if I just hang in there and keep practicing despite my current difficulty.
Has anyone else found this to be true? Is it sometimes hard for you to practice when things don’t go well? How do you push through your artistic bad days/weeks/months?