Not Buying Into My Crappy Mood

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There are times when it is overwhelming and inescapable. I look at something I’ve been working on, something that I’m proud of and that I love, and suddenly, it looks like utter crap. And I want to take my drawing pad or my hard drive and throw it out the window, then go outside and find it and light it on fire.

I know I’m not in the frame of mind to accurately see my work. (In fact, when I am anywhere between being manically pleased with myself and on a raging hate-binge, I am not in a frame of mind to accurately see my work.) But this doesn’t stop me from looking at it, and while I have yet to actually destroy anything from within the clutches of a foul mood, there’s always a first time.

Sometimes I can look at my foul mood and call shenanigans. Simply observe how it is gripping me, and know it is a passing storm that does not define me. I cherish those times. The other, overwhelming majority of times, I need coping skills. I am far from getting a handle on such renegade emotional states, but so far, I’ve learned to employ the following, with moderate success:

  • Provide context. Realize that my reaction to my work is not from its perceived inherent suckiness, but perhaps the crappy night’s sleep I got the night before, or some unrelated stress, or even a reactionary pendulum swing from something new and fun I’m trying, like starting a blog.
  • Go out and get some reference art. If I can get out of my head and turn my attention to the outside world, it’ll remove the burning sting of CrapMood, even just a little. I can take pictures of anything that catches my attention, like the trees in Bryant Park, buildings reflected in a windshield or a puddle, an interesting bug I’ve never seen before. I can grab a shot like this:
    I have no idea when I’m going to use it for reference art, but it’s so quintessential New York… how could I not snap a picture?
  • Use the crappy mood to create art. Today’s most recent tangle with CrapMood has spawned an idea for a quick animated short. It’s been healing to explore the storyboard for it, and nice to take a break from the other epically long project I’m working on.
  • When all else fails, there is always this:
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How do you move past a wretched mood while working on your craft? I’d love to hear your thoughts in the comments section below.

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