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5 “inspiring” sentences to block you as an artist

Have you ever had the feeling that it’s best to abandon your art supplies and find something else to do, once someone told you her opinion on art in general or gave you some (unasked) advice? Maybe you’ve stopped being creative because someone said something to block you?

Even though some of these things are said in all good will and in the name of positivity, they can actually hinder the creative process. In my case, these sentences have become part of my inner voice.

So in this post I am talking to myself – my inner voice talks and I answer – although you’ll have the chance to let your voice be heard at the bottom of this post in the comment section.

1. Be original/think out of the box!

There are few things more paralyzing than being asked to be original. The more I struggle to create something worthwhile, the more horrible the end result. There is nothing new under the sun, and when I actually do come up with something trully “out of the box”, I soon find on Pinterest that someone has already done it. In fact, everyone does something original who works with their hand, as no two people can produce the same mark on the paper. So please hook off this thing, I’ll just stress out over it.

2. Be better than your competitors

Is this some ruddy competition or what? There are tons of talented illustrators out there, who all do their own thing. Stressing over my comptetitors actually stops me from concentrating on my style. Comparing myself to others is, in fact, the most toxic thing I can do as an artist, so thanks, I don’t want any of your ‘competitiors’. I’m sure there are those people, who will look for just my work, and will eventually find it. And if not, well, at least I have enjoyed the process of creating.

3. Life is too short to…

All this rushing again… This is the sentence that turns my life into a never-ending work-day, the reason why I feel guilty every time I put down my paint brush/computer mouse and can only sleep soundly if I first take into account all the productive activities of the day. I obviously don’t want to waste that time, which is like a mili-second in the history of the Earth, but actually a fairly long time from my point of view. But please, leave me a bit of rest, just a little time to do nothing!

4. Don’t force it, it’ll come…

Let’s just not go to the other extreme, alright? If I didn’t force it a bit when I actually don’t feel like it, then all this would turn into nothing. Discipline must win the game sometimes, because there is a side to this activity called ‘business’, without which art would only be my side-hustle. So yeah, I need to force it sometimes, it’s not going to kill me.

5. You can do it, you are so creative!

What? No, I am not creative. What’s more, I get thoroughly anxious when I have to be creative on demand. I have a professional knowledge which I offer my clients, that is my trade, not my creativity. My creativity sometimes stays with me and sometimes it’s on holiday, and I definitely don’t expect it to be around all the time and wait readily to be called. You shouldn’t expect that either.


Sometimes it’s not that obvious what can paralyze others. The sentences above are often well-meant and are considered positive in this day and age. But for me, they are actually very limiting.

Have you got an irritating inner voice too? What are those sentences that drive you up the wall?

Autumn leaves | watercolor illustration | 5 "inspiring" sentences, that block you as an artist

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