The “do to get” mentality is tiring me out
: 😱 I'm starting to resent the work I love doing | getting the groove back | 7/24 new drawings, a riot of colours
HopeMail #131 | One new drawing and writing about life to brighten your inbox, twice a month on Fridays. This issue is the 7/24 new drawings for HopeMail. Counting down 17 more issues till we complete 24 new drawings in a year in October 2022. 💪🏻 If a friend shared this with you, and you'd like to receive my next newsletter, c'mon in.
When this happened as I plan my work tasks...
[ ] Create and schedule social media content.
My reaction: urghhh!
I know I gotta refill my tank.
I have been ignoring it. That tiredness. That “I’d checked off the to-do list and I’m supposed to feel fulfilled but I’m not” kind of tiredness.
For more than three months, this was my rhythm:
✔️ I got my HopeMail writing and drawing done.
✔️ I got my content to share on social media done.
✔️ I got my shop’s new website editing done.
✔️ I got my artworks nicely scanned, prepared, and uploaded.
✔️ I’ve spent time praying and reading God’s Word through the Bible.
✔️ I even got my workout done. 💪🏻
Sounds good, smells good, looks good.
But when a sniffle burst out of nowhere, it got my attention.
What’s happening here?!
My soul was trying to send me alerts, but I wasn’t paying attention. I was occupied with pursuing. It was good for a while. The adrenalin rush, the getting things done, because things do need to get done for my company of one. Then it wasn’t, when it outstayed its welcome.
One morning during my prayer time, three words popped up in my mind: do to get.
That’s when it clicked—why I am feeling like something is amiss. I’ve been on a “do to get” mode to the point where I’m tired of everything I’m doing. Even good things like consistently publishing HopeMail twice a month with new writing and drawing.
Alarm bells, alarm bells, alarm bells.
I'm starting to resent what I love doing.
Upon introspection (the human equivalent of sending your car to check what is making that noise?!), I was diagnosed with—the empty tank.
The tank that gets filled when I’m in the zone—creating—not necessarily to produce anything, but just to create. That tank was scraped-bottom empty!
While doing to get tasks completed, to chase after an uptick in work results, I’ve forgotten to create for no reason but just because I enjoy it. This went on undetected for over three months.
My soul was deprived of creating freely without the need to produce. Make ugly art. Make beautiful art. Write nonsense. Write something that makes me cry; makes people cry. Just—create.
The problem is, I feel that I need to give myself permission to do that. To not produce. To just have fun with creating. Without even sharing the creation with the world.
My fellow artist friend, Nishant often talked about “needing permission to create” in his SneakyArt podcast. Here’s an episode: Rekindling Joy with Emma Carlisle.
Still, it's difficult for me most of the time. I'm trying to shake off the need to be productive. I suspect I’m not the only one here and there’s bound to be some of you reading this with the perform-produce need?
What if I change my perspective?
Instead of being too heavily invested in do to get, why not increase my effort in do to give? Or do to receive?
Do to get is focusing on what I can achieve. What I can control to get what I want.
Do to give is focusing on what I can give to others. What value I can bring to them.
Do to receive is releasing control to the source of the giver. It’s being ok with receiving. Being ok with taking care of myself. Certainly—ok to just have fun with my creation, period.
There—in the change of my perspective, I might have found a new track to move forward with.
Though I know the old track of “do to get” still lay parallel to this new one, and I will stray every so often back to the old track; one day, with God’s help, a new habit of do to give and do to receive will form. And the world will certainly be better off with more of us like that. Amen.
Make beautiful ugly art
When the three words—do to get—popped into my mind, a riot of colours popped in too. I saw blocks and blocks of colours clashing together. Making a cymbal-trumpet-flute-guitar-drum kind of colourful visual noise! So, I played both parts as a conductor and also the musicians—and let it rip. No pencil outline, no linear perspective, no drawing rules, and not much of any planning. All I know for this piece is I want to merge what I’ve always done, “line drawing with black fine liner pen” with lots of colours.
I’ve made peace with making ugly art. And it’s beautiful.
Time-lapse of the drawing
Here’s a spur-of-the-moment long-shot kind of invitation:
Is there anyone reading this who would wanna just create art for fun—togetharrr?
We’ll create for fun and share (for fun too) within a closed group. It could be anything—from a doodle (stickman is cool), some words, audio recording, to oil painting if it’s your kind of thing.
No art knowledge is required. No rules. Just a willingness to let go. Think of it as a practice for life.
Hit this 🤪 emoji in the comment if you are remotely interested to do this.
That’s all for now, folks. Thanks for reading! To my readers celebrating Chinese New Year, gong xi, gong xi! I’ll see you in my next issue on February 18, 2022. Take care!
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Borrowed this term from Paul Jarvis’ book, Company Of One.
Amen is an Abrahamic declaration of affirmation first found in the Hebrew Bible, and subsequently in the New Testament. It is used in Jewish, Christian and Islamic worship, as a concluding word, or as a response to a prayer. Common English translations of the word amen include "verily", "truly", "it is true", and "let it be so”. It is also used colloquially, to express strong agreement. Source: Wikipedia
Let me offer my humble perspective - the work you love doing can inspire someone. Even if you just inspire one person, their worldview can change forever (for the better!).
This is also really good for me to ponder! I was easily writing newsletters every week and now I find myself struggling - not for lack of material, but I think I'm somehow fighting against the creativity instead of flowing with it.