If you do a quick search on the web, you won't really find much about this topic. But it's something I experience quite often, and I'm entitling it Art FOMO. So what is it? Essentially, it's the fear that I'm missing out on some untapped creative potential and all the fun and glory that comes with it. And it doesn't matter how much I'm loving my current artistic path - I can experience it at any time!
Thankfully, I think it's entirely possible to overcome this annoyance, and I'm providing concrete steps you can take to fall back in love with the work you're making. Let's overcome that Art FOMO.
Take a Break
When I'm facing a particularly baffling problem, my first instinct is to take a break. And I don't think that's a coincidence. In my personal experience, I've found that the harder I try to solve something, the harder it becomes to figure out. But the moment I walk away and do something unrelated, I'm able to come up with a plan. And I'm sure I'm not the only one! Almost anyone I've talked to about this agrees that our best ideas come in the shower or right as we're about to fall asleep.
The theory behind this involves the idea of subconscious work. It postulates that when we stop consciously focusing on the problem at hand, our subconscious mind picks it up and tinkers with it in the background. While we might be consciously thinking about buying more shampoo, our minds are still trying to come up with alternate solutions.
So when you find yourself stuck and hitting the same wall over and over again, step away and do something else. You might go for a run, bake some bread, or take a nap - just make sure that you let your mind take a break from ruminating about Art FOMO and focus on something else. It might take a day or three, but the right solution will come along when you least expect it.
Write it Out
After you've given yourself a break from wallowing in Art FOMO, the next step is writing about it. I know this step isn't the most fun, but writing gets swirling ideas out of our heads and often leads to much needed clarity.
When I'm writing about any issue, I follow a sort of prompt for solving problems. First, I write what exactly is causing me anguish. Then I write about how it makes me feel. Lastly, I write about why I might be feeling this way. For example, a journal page might look something like this:
"I've been feeling a lot of Art FOMO recently, and I feel like my art just isn't as good as it could be. I think I might feel like this, because I'm not communicating what I want to with my art at this time."
It might seem like such a simple statement, but it packs a big punch. And getting the whirling, swirling thoughts out of our brains' airspace and onto a piece of paper brings a lot of relief and understanding about our feelings regarding our artwork.
Differentiate and Define
Now that we have some data to work with, we get to sort it out and define our next steps. Following the example above, let's take a look back at some of our past work and see which pieces do communicate the ideas we want. Then when we find a piece that does, take some time to figure out why. And the why doesn't have to be deep and philosophical; it could be that we liked the brushstrokes or the colors.
After you've reviewed your artwork, it's time to look at other artists' work. The point of this is NOT to compare yourself to someone else. The only thing you're looking for here is what speaks to you about that piece you can't get enough of. That could be texture, subject matter, style, or narrative - honestly the list goes on and on. The most important thing here is to pinpoint what you want more of in your work. So keep your notebook handy and jot down ideas that you can refer back to.
Allow for Experimentation
The final step is to take everything you've uncovered on this journey and bring it into the studio. After all, the only way we can figure out what works for us is through experimentation. Get out the materials you've most been dreaming of and have some fun! This isn't the time to fall back into old patterns, so force yourself to try something new.
It might be uncomfortable or unsettling at first, but this is all about testing out different ideas and setting yourself up for a long-term, fulfilling artistic practice. If things don't turn out the first ten times, that's perfectly okay! Now is the ideal time to make mistakes and do things that might not work right away. But as you keep at it, these new ideas will slowly be refined into something that resonates with your vision and goals.
Once you narrow in on that essential aspect, you won't be dealing with Art FOMO anymore. Instead, you'll be happily painting the days away and making work that not only feels fun but unleashes the creative potential you felt you were missing!
As someone who is currently going through another bout of Art FOMO, I'll be using these tips to get back on track with my own art. And I hope you find them useful if you ever find yourself in a similar situation.
If you want to stay up to date with what's happening in my studio, you can subscribe for blog and newsletter updates with the form at the bottom of the page. I post blogs weekly and send newsletters out once a month!
Thanks for reading and happy creating!