Trusting your gut
Creative people, in my experience, are always chasing the next challenge. This is our strength, in that we don't allow ourselves to be complacent and we always want to push ourselves further, but I think it can sometimes result in a bit of 'future focus'.
By that, I mean we are trying to see where what we're currently working on will take us, rather than enjoying where we are. This is easy to do especially in the age of social media where it's so easy to compare yourself to other creative people with the metric of arbitrary numbers.
I think it can also be easy, especially with art and illustration, to think of your work as progressing linearly as steps towards your Best Piece Ever, almost as if creating art is a video game where if you complete enough levels you'll finally become the champion. However, I feel like that idea of great artists being like ‘yes, this is my masterpiece, this is my pièce de résistance,’ is a falsehood. They’re probably already thinking about what they’re making next, or wondering if they should go back to the other thing they were doing because they’re worried they're not as good at this one.
Instead, I think that creative work should be viewed as parts of a larger whole. It’s more like they all kind of orbit around you and interact with and inform the ideas that you have.
Opening one door doesn’t close all the others that you’ve tried - everything you do, you are learning and picking up new skills. You take a bit of what you liked about this thing, and some of the composition skills you improved when you did this other thing, and use them to try something else.
So, if you're doubting yourself right now, or wondering where what you're doing is taking you, it might be worth trusting it if it's making you happy and teaching you things. I'm reminded of the rules set by screenprint artist and activist Corita Kent for her art students, which I've added a snap of to this post. In particular:
Rule 1: Find a place you trust and try trusting it for a while.
Rule 6: Nothing is a mistake. There's no win and no fail. There's only make.
Rule 8: Don't try to create and analyse at the same time. They're different processes.