A creative crisis can hit anyone at anytime. I know, I’ve had many a creative crisis throughout the years, and I always seem to get through them, somehow.

If you don’t know what I mean, check out this handy illustration found in Steal Like an Artist.


If you’ve been a reader of this blog for any length of time, you will recognize this image.  This is not the first time we’ve talked about this topic, but it’s so important that I wanted to bring it up again with a real world example: my son.

I’m cursed blessed  to be raising a creative child, which often leads to some interesting moments. Moments, like this past weekend when I experienced my son struggling with his latest sculpture project and I could clearly see his journey mirroring my own.

Luckily I’ve been writing for this blog long enough that I knew exactly what to do when his project went south. Like most parents, I heard something might be going awry before I actually confirmed there was a problem. Small explosions of the emotional kind were erupting from the basement. When I went to investigate, I found  him in his bedroom hiding under a blanket; hiding from his troubles. (Oh to be young, when hiding under the blankets could cure most of the ills of the world!) I managed to get enough information out of him to realize that he was in the middle of a creative crisis. Since I’m a no-nonsense kind of mom, I treated him like I would any creative, and I went and got my copy of Steal Like an Artist and turned to page 83 .

Imagine me on the carpet placing the book in front of him as he continues to lick his wounded ego by burying his face into the cats fur. There I am telling him “See, you’re not alone, you’re not the first artist to hit a road block on your project. Look, this is how all projects go! In fact its so common they wrote a book about it! I know you’ve already passed ‘This is the best idea ever’ and ‘OK, this is harder than I thought’ so the only question is where are you now?’ I walked him through each step in the process and you know what, my kid is pretty awesome, he got up and went back to his mad scientist workshop and we discussed what was the best way to proceed.

After we found the parts strewn across the driveway we discovered the problem. Sometimes we need a little skilled labor to help us over the tough parts. I arranged for a friend to come over to help  him and he was able to finish the project. It looks great. Maybe not the stunning vision of glass and metal that he had originally designed, but more than good enough.

I know he looks at his finished sculpture like all artists; the look that says, yeah I finished it, its ok, I’m not happy with it but it will do. Now to get onto the next project. I’ve seen that look; do you know the look that I’m talking about? Is that how you look at your own creative projects?

When your deep in the trenches of your creative project it’s so easy to get discouraged. It doesn’t matter if you’re a photographer, a sculpture  or a writer, creating something is hard work. If you’re pushing yourself to the edge of your abilities you will always hit that moment when you think it will never work out, it will never live up to your vision. When you reach that point, remember we’ve all been there and It’s ok. Keep going, keep pushing on, and know you will come out the other side and somewhere along the way, you will learn something and your next project will be better for it.

If you’ve had your own creative crisis, feel free to share it with us in the comments. It’s when we share these darker moments that we know, yes we’re human, we’re all struggling and we’re not alone.

~ Shelly

Your moment of Zen…