The (un)importance of consistent art-making

Dec 20, 2017 | Developing an art practice

The (un)importance of consistent art-making

 

If you read what experts write about blogging on the internet, you find the same advice everywhere: be consistent in your content creating. Choose a regular interval, for instance once a week, and stick to that. If you write blog posts, do it every week, no matter what.

I believe these experts have a point. If I write a blog post only when I feel like it, you don’t know what you can expect from me, and you might lose interest. But what’s also important is I then don’t know what I can expect from myself either. If I don’t write on a consistent basis, I don’t commit myself. And once I skip a week, why should I not skip the next week, too? Procrastination is self-reinforcing.

I write about this self-reinforcing quality of procrastination in the first episode of a series of blog posts titled The power of daily painting: ‘Once you start procrastinating and skip one day of painting, it becomes more probable that you skip the next day too. The things that hinder you today will probably still hinder you tomorrow. Your life situation or your psychological makeup will not have changed overnight. Next day you can feel still uninspired, doubtful, busy and tired. The counterforces that keep you from painting have probably not changed.’

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Discipline

And what is true about consistent painting is also true for consistent blogging. Both are creative endeavors, which ask a certain amount of discipline. Once you let go of the rhythm you have set for yourself, it is very seductive to skip the whole thing altogether or slowly let your good habit die a silent death. I am a firm believer in the importance of creating on a consistent basis.

At the same time, I believe equally in the unimportance of consistency, and this applies to blogging as well as painting.

Discipline is a good thing but, if you drive it too far, it turns into rigidity. That does not serve you well. You deplete yourself, and you don’t give yourself enough rest to recover from intense work. Undue discipline makes you inflexible, and holding on to your self-chosen rhythm too tightly makes you a slave of your own good intentions. You start to dislike painting, and your art feels forced and unnatural.

The borderline between pushing yourself too hard and not being disciplined enough is very thin, and everybody has to find out for her- or himself where that border lies. It can depend on circumstances, of course, and can change in time. Moreover, it doesn’t matter that much if you don’t draw the borderline right every time. You can take that lightly.

 

Not beneficial

In the case of blogging: pushing your determination to write regularly too far does not serve your audience either. You might write your blog posts in haste, and therefore they become superficial and boring which makes for a waste of your readers’ time.

The effect on yourself is not beneficial either. You force yourself to work harder than you actually can, and you start to get behind on your schedule. That causes stress which in turn makes it less likely you can inspire your audience well.

 

Take a break

I first wanted to hold on to the rhythm of writing these blog posts on a weekly basis, no matter what, but then I realized that I would get stressed. Creating blog posts in advance of holiday weeks would clog my schedule too much.

Suddenly I realized that I don’t hold on to my daily painting that strict either. I paint every single weekday, but I take off every weekend and holiday. At those moments my children are at home and I prefer to spend time with them. Apart from that, I like to have a break from my painting regularly. I don’t feel ‘guilty’ I don’t paint because I deliberately choose not to paint at these moments.

 

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Staying inspired

I am very happy with this rhythm of painting and not painting. Not painting gives my subconscious the time to come up with new ideas and to digest what I have been doing. This way, I stay inspired, and it is less likely that I get in a rut. Why wouldn’t the same be true for blogging?

I am writing the above, first because I wanted to inform you that I decided that I am not going to write blog posts on school holidays (and there are a lot in the Netherlands ;-)).

Also, I write this because I want to encourage you to paint on a consistent basis, if possible daily. Daily painting is incredibly powerful. I write about this extensively here.

At the same time, dare to be inconsistent. Don’t force yourself too hard, don’t become your own slave driver, and take time off if you need to.

Thirdly, make your inconsistency consistent. What I mean by that is that you can create a schedule which includes painting as well as not painting, activity as well as rest, work as well as pause. This way you don’t have to decide in the moment whether or not you are going to paint on a given day; you already made the decision. Doing so provides clarity.

And, last but not least, there is nothing wrong with happily slacking without any good reason every once in awhile!

 

I hope you enjoy your holidays immensely and I wish you many blessings!

 

Simone

 

PS

How do you create a rhythm of painting and not painting? Tell us in the comments below!

Simone Nijboer, Dutch abstract artist, online art teacher, daily painter, creativity accelerator

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2 Comments

  1. Carol Edan

    This reminds me of a quote from Seth Godin
    “The hard part is “steady.”
    Anyone can go slow. It takes a special kind of commitment to do it steadily, drip after drip, until you get to where you’re going. ” I the steady that is hard.

    Reply
    • Simone Nijboer

      Thanks, Carol, for this beautiful quote! You are absolutely right. Maybe it is good to remind ourselves, that this steadiness is indeed not always easy, but indeed the way to go.

      Reply

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