The Making of a Mantra
Many people start their new year's off with a resolution. A type of rule, if you will, resulting in a pass or fail. "I will lose 20 pounds!" is probably the most common type. You either do or you don't. Most of the time it's a daunting task that makes us feel bad when we haven't achieved it.
Sometimes it is written even more vague such as "I'll get healthy". This can have the opposite effect, with it's goal requiring you to succeed at something that isn't defined. Healthy can mean a lot of things. Does it mean eating better? Walking more? Visiting a therapist? Getting surgery?
A few years ago my sister-in-law offered a new idea she read about. Instead of having a specific resolution or goal that essentially has to be met every day to have that feeling of pass/fail, she suggested we come up with a word or very short phrase, similar to a mantra to focus our upcoming year around. It becomes less of a condition to pass or fail (or fear failing all year) and more of a reminder. It can be used in all situations and even all areas of life, depending on what your intent is.
What does this have to do with art?
This year, I chose "Light". I wanted to encourage myself to let go of that sense of so much seriousness and being encumbered with finishing projects perfectly. Often as artists, we can feel defeated before we even set ink to paper, paint to canvas or hands to clay. It's got to look just like the photo. It has to capture all the movement. It needs to use just the right colors. That stress of concern can freeze us into fear rather than creation. What for? We didn't even mess it up yet and already we've stopped.
I encourage you to come up with a mindset to help you through those difficult moments. Maybe for you, it's a sense of time. Perhaps your mantra can be "Five". Take just five minutes to sketch or practice calligraphy. It doesn't mean every day without fault, but just lend five minutes of your attention when you can do something you love. Perhaps your ideas are very complex and focus on the end goal, rather than starting. You could choose a word like, "Patience" or "Progress".
Make yourself a visual reminder of some kind, like a desktop screen or a sketch next to your bedside of your word. Remember it is a frame of mind, an intent of creation and most certainly not a rule.