• Sophie Whitehead

Eliminate Doubt...and...Date Your Idea?

I wasn’t sure what the subject of my very first post would be, maybe something introducing the project - something to mark the occasion perhaps? But after a conversation with a creative friend last week, I decided on this important one. Doubt. And what we can do about it.

It's something that can stop you dead in your tracks and make you question yourself. I’ve had to abolish any doubts about the ideas I'm working on and my abilities as an artist, as otherwise this post wouldn’t be here to read. The whole project’s existence too as a matter of fact!

I was at a point late last year where I couldn’t imagine not moving forward with my ideas. They tugged at my sleeve, letting me know they were still there and always would be until I actually did something about them. It was a culmination of experiences, of sorts.

The only problem was I couldn’t see a route from how I felt at the time, to where the full grand scale realisations lived - the mystical place where the purest ever-evolving versions resided. Where there were no limits to what I could create.

So I made the decision to channel the positive gut feeling I was being given rather than continue listening to any of those age old doubtful voices. Changing my perception in order to realise the truth of what I was experiencing meant addressing these doubts. This came about after watching a Sean Scully documentary on BBC Two, where the painter explains that doubt is never a factor in his work, and how important eliminating doubt is for artists and creative people.

Doubt in our ideas and abilities, and comparing ourselves to other creative people, can be enough to block any positive routes we may have started to travel along. I most certainly doubted my ability in getting to where my ideas could be realised, and doubted I would ever have the means to get there.

So I've listed five things below that really helped me and will hopefully help get you started too. Perhaps to gain the courage and persistence to create a website, start writing about your project, or just start, full stop. I hope you have some fun with them! Number four and five are my favourites as there are no limits to what you could do or imagine...

1. Eliminate doubt. Doubt gets in the way of us realising our true potential. As Sean Scully explains in the documentary, it's hard enough just making time and having energy to make art, let alone doubting ourselves as well.

2. Start small with your idea. Play with the materials you already have; use the space you have, and the knowledge and skills you already have. Experiment with different techniques. This way you will slowly build more confidence in order to continue building your ideas through even more experimentation, and so on. Remember, bigger things lead on from smaller things - that’s how all things grow!

3. Embrace praise from your peers about your work. This really helps to maintain continuing confidence and momentum. Also verbally acknowledge and thank those people, letting them know how important their words are to you. This will spur you on to keep experimenting, creating more, and sustaining excitement about your ideas.

4. Date your Idea!

- Make friends with it. If you chatted over coffee, what would your idea want to say to you? What would you say to it?

- Pretend your idea is a person - take it on a date. What would it really enjoy doing? This will really help you feel joy about your idea and motivated to carry it out.

- Set aside some time each day or week to think about it. Giving it your dedicated attention really makes it come alive in your head.

- Imagine it on a different (larger or smaller) scale. What would you change? What would work? What could you add or take away?

- Keep a little notebook handy in your pocket or bag so you can sketch or write any ideas down. This way you are less likely to forget that one great idea you had while you were at the checkout buying bananas.

- What your idea really wants is love and space to grow, and to become a real thing. That’s why we have ideas!

5. Imagine you were a Turner prize winning artist. What would you do with your idea/work that could/would work on a Turner Prize scale? What kind of things could you create? What would the concept be? How would you document it? What else would you include? How would you present it?

I would love to know which ones you might try and what’s worked for you so far. Do you also have any other tried and tested ways not listed above? I would love to know - let me know in the comments!

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