Thinking time and comparisons

Sarah-Epstein-Creative---canvases-1One thing I do as a creative person is a lot of thinking. I take a lot of time to mull things over before I put pen to paper or fingers to keyboard. This applies to drawing, writing, or even painting a room in my house. I let things marinate in the back of my mind until I feel like I’m ready to start, and then when I do start it can be a creative frenzy. I know exactly where I’m going with it because of all that lovely thinking time.

But it’s not always a good thing because that thinking time can get hijacked: my mind’s a sponge and I’m constantly absorbing everything around me. I start comparing my ideas to other people’s and suddenly that little morsel I have marinating away doesn’t seem so delicious anymore. When I was younger I used to be much more impulsive; I’d have an idea and would need to work on it that week, that hour, that minute. I didn’t stop to compare myself to others because I was too busy getting the ideas down on paper. There’s so much creative freedom in not caring what others are doing. As Theodore Roosevelt put it, “Comparison is the thief of joy.”

I think the sweet spot for me is to have a foot in both camps. I like taking time to consider what I hope to achieve with a drawing or story, take time to plan and figure out how to execute it. But I think the key is not too much time or else ideas start to fizzle out or pale in comparison to something you’ve seen or read in the meantime. You have to stick with things and see them through to a conclusion, even if you feel like it’s not your best work. I know I’d never finish anything if I cared too much about what everyone else is producing; you can get overwhelmed by everyone else’s talent. But you’d having nothing to be in awe of if they hadn’t finished it.

However you work, just get started. Don’t compare your work or yourself to others, and create stuff you can be proud of.

3 thoughts on “Thinking time and comparisons

  1. Richelle says:

    Great post. I’m much like that too and I’ve spent way too much of my life worried about what other people will think and that I’m not as good/skilled/articulate/smart/whatever as others! Not anymore and you’ve just inspired me some more. Thanks 🙂

    • sarahepsteincreative says:

      Great, Richelle! So happy to hear that. I agree – we need to not be so hard on ourselves, or else we’d never try anything new. Comparing yourself to others takes the fun out of everything and makes us less brave to take a big leap into something we’re passionate about. Good luck with everything you have planned! 🙂 And thanks so much for your comment.

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