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How to overcome self-doubt as an artist

5 Apr 2020

How to overcome self-doubt as an artist

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It is easy to look at other people’s images and see your own shortcomings.
Be kind to yourself and evaluate your progress by seeing your own progress, instead of constantly comparing yourself to others.

Being an artist with a camera usually means working alone. Most of us need a mix of alone-time and connection with others, so we turn to social media, like Instagram and Facebook, to keep in touch with likeminded people and other photographers. The experience is usually enriching, and you can find inspiration, support and friendship.

However, you can also easily fall into the trap of comparison that triggers feelings of self-doubt, and your creativity suffers.
When that happens, you need to keep in mind that what you see on Facebook or Instagram is not the whole story. You don’t see the struggles, the mistakes, the months and years spent developing skills, exploring new ideas and coping with rejections. You might compare your creative beginnings to other people’s end journeys.

When you fall into the comparison trap your first reaction might be envy, followed by discouragement and lack of inspiration.

You need to remember that creativity is not a popularity contest, and shouldn’t be about the result. It is all about the pleasure of doing something, of exploring and growing. To stay healthy and creative, the only comparison should be with yourself. You will begin to feel inspired and energised when you stop using other people’s opinions and instead focus on your own journey.

Compare and evaluate your own progress. Knowing yourself is a key; it’s a work in progress. It is about pausing and thinking about what you really want to create, what brings you joy and gives you purpose.

It’s important to find a way to track your own progress. You might at the end of each month, for example, take time to write down all that you have achieved: new skills, techniques, new ideas. Recognise and take joy from your achievements. From time to time, go through your photographs from the last couple of years to see how you have evolved.

Be aware of your mood and emotions. When you catch yourself in negative thinking about your work, go off line for a while. Shutting out the noise will help you reset your mind, and avoid comparison with others.

Advancement is the true measure of success