Building Creative Confidence is a Marathon, not a Sprint

Most marathon runners didn’t just wake up one Wednesday morning and say, “Hey, I think I’ll run 42 km today.” If they did, they would most likely quit after their first run because they were so terrible and couldn’t achieve their goal.

Sadly, this is how many talented creative people treat their creative confidence. They try something and when they fail their confidence is shot and they give up. Creative people who succeed build their confidence over time and learn to embrace their failures as lovingly as their successes.

I want to encourage everyone out there to enjoy the whole experience of the creative process. Often I learn more from the projects that fail than the ones that succeed. Although, the ones that succeed are a lot easier on my ego.

Just like a marathon runner, you have to train yourself and build your confidence like they build their endurance. Learn how to deal with all the possible situations you may come across, and learn to not just run the easy flat path by the water but to incorporate some challenging hill runs and sprints into the training to push yourself farther and build some creative muscle.

Creative people have endurance. Their endurance and determination is their resilience. They keep trying after failing. Keep showing up after not getting it right. Don’t give up when they are running on fumes.

Creative people are brave.

How did they get there? How does a person learn to keep going in the face of so much adversity? How does a runner keep running when they ‘hit the wall’? They do it with practice, training, and mastering their skill.

Take chances

They know that by heading out the door and starting something new they can gain from the experience and the challenge. And if they do it a little each day, or month, or year, eventually they’ll be able to take on the huge challenges that without all that training they would shy away from.

Set goals

They set a goal (run a 5km, design a book cover) and work towards it. And when they meet that goal, they set another. It is amazing how differently you approach things when you have a goal in mind. You become more focused, more tuned in and you think about the goal even when you aren’t working on it.

Try new things

Going on the same running route every day gets boring. This is the same with doing the same type of creative work over and over and over. Experiment, do projects on your own and above all, share your results. The easier it is for you to share your work, the stronger your creative confidence muscles get. Not everyone will love it, but many people will.

Look to others for inspiration

Runners always talk about their best run times. Creative people talk about the projects that satisfied their creative desires the most. There are some projects designers will work on for free just because they love the creativity and freedom involved in making a piece of art or design that they are proud of. The more of these projects under your belt, the higher your creative confidence will soar.

Know there is always another run

It is inevitable that sometimes you will fail. You will have a terrible run because you didn’t sleep, you have been stressed, your car broke down, your annoying uncle is visiting. But successful creative people know that there is another project on the horizon and although it may be tough to get over the last one, you can do better and you will do better.

Learn from each experience

Even the most painful and uncomfortable projects teach me something. I try to learn something from everything I do. That way every day I am becoming more efficient and more productive in everything I do.

So in conclusion, if you think you can build your creative confidence in a week, think again. It takes a long time and even when you find it there will be days when you feel you are a terrible designer and can’t make anything. The key is to keep going, keep trying, and keep designing. The confidence will come and it is an amazing feeling once you have it.

Tara Joy Andrews

Artist, Illustrator, Designer and Writer

Illustrator, Artist, Graphic Designer, doodler, snail mail enthusiast, typeface hoarder and creative addict.

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