In this blog post: 3 lessons + Gallery + Tools Used (bonus)
Oh my gosh. I made it.
Thirty-one drawings in thirty-one days (more like two months in my case). I never thought I'd make it to thirty-one drawings. The journey was surprising nevertheless. There were times I felt like quitting, especially after skipping many days being so busy with work. But in the end, the challenge turned out really good. Inktober (which was started by Jake Parker) has taught me so much. In particular, three life-changing lessons stood out to me throughout the journey:
1. Frustration is a friend.
It was day four and I kept having this one idea I wanted to work on but I just couldn’t work it out. I kept trying to be very cautious with my ink, went through several sheets of paper, kept erasing and re-drawing. I remember getting really frustrated because I could not perfect the idea. And whenever frustration kicked in, I felt like quitting. This is usually what happens with all my ideas which is why I usually end up giving up. But I had to submit a drawing that day and I had to do something to deal with this inner conflict. So I tried to do something different: I listened to my frustration.
I know that sounds like the opposite thing to do. Most advice we get on dealing with fears and frustrations is to ignore them and just keep going. That if we give them a voice, they’ll control us and pull us into a downward spiral.
But on the contrary, it was rather helpful. The very act of giving my frustration a microphone was like asking an enemy, “What are you trying to tell me?” And when I scanned through my frustration, I realized why I was getting so upset. I desperately wanted to not be rejected for creating something imperfect.
I needed to realize this truth. Frustration did not turn out to be an enemy. It was very helpful to know that I needed to re-direct my values and shift my focus from creating art out of fear of rejection to doing it out of love for self. Which is why I took part in this challenge in the first place. Befriending frustration helped me listen and be attentive to things deep inside that I could’ve kept ignoring. This was day four:
2. OUT OF ORIGINAL IDEAS? TRY IDEA SEX.
On day 17, I ran out of ideas. I just couldn’t come up with anything. I happened to be looking through photos of my art that I had on my phone and I saw a photo collection of random work I would not consider posting. But what was really interesting was what it did to me when they we’re put side by side. That juxtaposition gave me a new idea. It was IDEA SEX!
James Altucher has talked about this concept a lot—when running out of inspiration, combine two different or unrelated ideas to create a new idea. This has become one of my favorite things to do every time I run out of ideas or inspiration. It’s helped me not underestimate having “failed” ideas because one day their combination could help me. What everyday things would Idea Sex improve we used it regularly? Here's day 17's "Don’t Look Back".
3. FAILURE IS NOT THE END.
In the earlier weeks of the challenge, whenever it was time to pull out my art tools, the very awkward fear of the blank canvas would show up. "What will I be creating today? Will it be any good? Will it be satisfactory? Will it be liked and shared by many? Should I use this brush? What if I screw up? What if I don’t like it?” These were some of the questions that would come up and it could take hours, if not days, before I would start working on something.
After I learned how to listen to my frustrations, I saw that underneath all these questions was one that held them all: “What if I don't bounce back after the failure?”
This challenge showed me why I feared risking my ideas. It wasn’t because I was lazy and needed more discipline. It was because I held the belief that failure was the end and there was no trying again after it. But whenever I look back at a lot of the situations that have felt like failure in my life, whether it was my art, films or music that I created, or hard life situations I experienced, I see that I survived, I bounced back, I got up and tried again. It was never the end.
I had to seriously re-wire my brain on this one. Every time I was about to take the first brush stroke, I had to trust that only by embracing failure—dying to control, comfort, safety, ego— that life will continue and it is never the end.
To conclude, I know it's late but I'm glad to say that I've finished. I did not necessarily make the perfect art nor finished it on time. But I've finished. I highly recommend this challenge to any body. The lessons from this journey was not just related to art but also major spiritual and character development. It taught me a lot about letting go, risk and embracing the unknown. This is after all the life of Liminalism.
Check out the gallery below. And if you're interested in what tools I've used, you can also check it out below the gallery as well.