What to do when you hate everything you produce

You know that feeling when you’ve just poured time and effort into writing/ lettering/ painting something, but then you look down and think ‘This looks like crap. I hate it’. You’re disappointed because it doesn’t look like what you had envisioned and you feel so frustrated because you know you can do better than this.

If you’re an Instagrammer, you have two options:

  • Post it
  • Don’t post it.

I know you don’t want to post it. You see everyone else’s work and think that it comes so naturally to them. You think that they must be so talented and have more artistic skill than you ever will. Then you get depressed because your stuff looks nowhere near as good as them, and there’s no way you can post your work, because it’s just embarrassing. Seriously, no one wants to see my childish doodles.

If that’s the case, go to bed and sleep on it. I assure you that when you come back to it tomorrow, you will see ways to improve upon your work that you didn’t see before.

If today IS tomorrow, then post it anyway. You’ll be surprised that the things you think you hate, other people will actually like! We tend to notice and overemphasize the imperfections of our own work, rather than focus on its merits. There’ll always be something that our eye is drawn to and it’ll annoy the hell out of us. But you know what, it’s reassuring to know that when other people see your work, they’ll notice its beauty first and foremost. Often, they won’t even notice the ‘imperfections’. Trust me, there are people out there who look at your work and think ‘Wow, she/he’s really good at doing [xyz]’. They admire you. Remember that the skill you already have, is yours and there are people out there who wish that they had your skill.

It’s really, really hard to give up on being perfect and embrace the journey (and joy) of learning. Don’t be so hard on yourself.

6 comments

@Angie Bhatia: Your persevering nature will get you far in anything you do Angie! It’s funny how we have different perspectives when it comes to other people’s work vs our own. We are our own harshest critics sometimes!

@MaiType: It is definitely the most frustrating in the beginning, that’s for sure! Once you do get the hang of it, the satisfaction will be immense. I know you’ll get there- keep up the good work!

@Ruvi Jane: Keep those drafts because you’ll be able to look back in the future and see how much you’ve improved. It’ll be a good artefact to show people who you teach later on too.

@Kerry Holden: I’m glad, you’re welcome!

@Kristin: You’ll be surprised at how quickly you improve if you practice regularly. I was looking over my feed today and literally hated almost everything. It’s tough, but I’m sending lots of support your way!

Fiona Ariva September 12, 2017

Fiona, this was an awesome post! IG can be such an intimidating platform! Especially when you are just breaking out, unsure of who you are as an artist. Now that you say this, I always appreciate the imperfect posts from others, reminding me that there are more mistakes in the process than final products!

Kristin September 11, 2017

Thank you! As a beginner instagrammet I REALLY needed to hear that!!

Kerry holden September 08, 2017

Thanks for posting this, Fiona! Sometimes I really tend to overthink on my works causing for it to not look like how I want it to be… but thanks for reminding that there are people out there who will appreciate it no matter how bad it looks on your perspective.

Ruvi Jane September 07, 2017

Thanks for this, I just have a few weeks learning how to do it and sometimes is so frustrating when you have something in your mind but your hands don’t know how to do it. I’m proud of my work and someday I will get better!

MaiType September 07, 2017

I totally agree Fiona. I was looking at someone’s piece the other day and was immediately struck by the artistic nature of it and really liked it. As I looked closer, I realised that, had it been my own, I would have been on a downer about it!!!! That realisation opened my eyes. The other thing I realised (but still don’t always do) is that some pieces can look horrid in the process but if I persevere to the end, more often than not, it turns out waaaaay better than I could have imagined so I do mainly try to finish everything I start.
Thanks for this x

Angie Bhatia September 06, 2017

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