When you’re a creative, it’s normal to feel pressure to, well… keep creating.
You release one big project, and then your sights have to turn to the next. You get a great response from something, and you imagine how much farther your career could be if you were able to replicate it over and over again. When you see something working, it can become a bit addicting to continually try to improve it.
This is only compounded by social media. It seems like creators are releasing new work every hour of every day, and this is because, sometimes, they are. But that doesn’t mean that the work is quality, nor does it mean that if you aren’t able to something quickly, you shouldn’t do it at all.
Working and living online has changed the way we create in one fundamental way: speed and prolificness. Yes, to be a professional in a creative field, you have to be able to perform. But when it comes to your own projects, you should sometimes revel in the magic of taking your damn time.
Even when it seems like everything around you is demanding that you keep producing to keep up, dare to take your time. Dare to take the next entire year to work on your upcoming project. Dare to let the concept percolate for months. Dare to not push yourself, dare to allow it to cohere in your head perfectly before you begin.
Is this aligned with the greatest and latest productivity advice? Of course not. And let’s be clear, if you govern all of your work with this mindset, you probably aren’t going to get anywhere.
But amid the never-ending output, the constant pressure to do better, and create more, sometimes the greatest possible thing that you can do for yourself and your art is to allow it time to be built. Remember that creators of the past — the greatest artists of all time, the icons we look to even now — were typically only releasing a few big pieces of work throughout their entire life.
It’s amazing that we have so much more opportunity to create and share without having to wait for a single elusive book deal or art commission to be our defining project, but don’t let it pressure you into reducing the quality and depth of your work for the sake of seeming like you’re keeping up with everyone else.
You’re on your own timeline, and sometimes, the most important things you’re going to do will take the longest. Allow yourself this. Dive into it for as much time as you dream. Create something and scrap it and start again, until it’s exactly what you want it to be. In a world that’s demanding you create constantly for the sake of a paycheck, don’t let yourself forget why you fell in love with it in the first place.