Skip to content

Frustrating artist

January 3, 2010

I’m sure we’re all familiar with the image of the frustrated artist.

He or she sits alone, huddled over ink-stained scraps of paper, pen poised for action, but not moving. Or perhaps their fingers hover above the keys of a typewriter or computer. Maybe they pace the room, sometimes stopping to stare at a blank canvas, before sighing and resuming their agitated perambulations.

Image used with kind permission,
© 2010 Julia Anderson.

They stop to drink, to gather their thoughts, to curse the absence of inspiration, returning to and retreating from their magnum opus. Maybe they daydream through their job, wishing they could earn a living from their art. But each night, they find themselves unable to start, unable to complete their work.

It must be a familiar image to all of us, whether it is real or imagined.

I will admit, I’m a frustrated artist. But my wife has pointed out another aspect to it. I’m a frustrating artist too.

It must be frustrating enough to have to deal with someone who talks a lot about art, but doesn’t seem to do a lot of it. This morning I heard that Stephen Fry intends to disconnect from his online life until April so that he can concentrate on writing his autobiography. My wife pithily suggested that I might try to do the same!

But I am also frustrating that when inspiration strikes, it seems to strike at odd times. When we’re sitting in front of the television of an evening, on lazy days when we have nowhere to go and nothing to do, I have no inclination to write, or to paint.

By contrast when there are tasks needed to be done round the house, when there is shopping to be done, when there are places to go – then I’m full of ideas, desperate to be allowed to sit at my desk and scribble away, or to grab a sketch pad and let my imagination flow to my fingers.

It must frustrate her, but it frustrates me too. That’s why I’m taking steps to try to harness that energy, not only when it strikes, but to encourage it to bubble to the surface at will. After all, that’s the only way anyone can genuinely work. Each day, every day, regardless of whether we feel like it or not. My father never woke up in the morning and thought “I don’t feel particularly inspired to financial management this morning, I’ll not go in to work”. Why should I have that luxury?

I have set myself a number of challenges this year. The first is a variation of the 365 Day Challenge. Instead of taking one photo each day, I’m going to draw a picture a day (and to remain accountable, there will be a part of my blog dedicated to this).

On the writing front, I have set myself the challenge of entering one writing competition each month this year. The contests were selected in November, and have been planned out in advance. Again, I’ll keep myself accountable by listing them on the blog.

I can’t guarantee I won’t remain frustrated. I can’t even guarantee I won’t remain frustrating. But frustrated or frustrating, I’ll be an artist regardless.

Would you like to read ten fantastic short stories, from ten incredible writers, collected in one amazing anthology? Then you should pick up a copy of Chinese Whisperings: The Red Book, available now as an eBook, and coming soon in Spring 2010 as a paperback.
  1. January 2, 2010 9:57 pm

    I look forward to following your 365 days of sketches – and in celebrating your victories as you are placed and win your comps.

  2. January 3, 2010 9:13 am

    Very nice, Paul. And something we, and our loved ones, can ALL relate to.

    You’re inspiring me. Was there someplace online you found your competitions to enter? I’m always looking for new contests – I never DO anything about them, but I enjoy knowing they are out there and that I COULD do something about them. 😀

    Does anyone else know of any writing contest resources?

  3. January 3, 2010 10:11 am

    Excellent post! And what a great idea! I might copy you and start entering writing competitions too.

    I need to do something to keep me writing. When I go too long without writing, I start to question my ability to write and, because of this, I write even less and it continues in this vein as a viscious cycle.

  4. January 3, 2010 12:29 pm

    You don’t know me, but I read here regularly. And I have one “correction:”

    “But frustrated or frustrating, I’ll be an artist regardless.”

    You *are* an artist. Repeat after me. 🙂

    Looking forward to continued reading.


  5. January 3, 2010 1:41 pm

    Karen, the writing magazine I subscribe to ( has a supplement they produce in the fall which details the upcoming competitions for the following year. Not sure of any online resources that do the same though.

    HD – very true!

  6. January 3, 2010 9:55 pm

    I wish you all the will power you can muster up. I look forward to following, good luck with all that you do.

    I myself feel your frustrations.

Comments are closed.

%d bloggers like this: