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Jessica Abel Hits Home by Kelsey Sherman

In her blog post This Is Why You’re Procrastinating, and How to Stop, Jessica Abel gets to the core of the issue. What she says truly hits home: this topic is very much so relevant to me and many of my fellow colleagues in the 2020 graduating class. With the recent news of having to complete my senior year of college remotely, I have been finding it difficult to muster up the motivation to work.

Another one of Abel’s blog posts, Perfectionism Is Not Your Real Problem, speaks to another pertinent issue I have been facing upon preparing for graduation: the fear of asserting individualism. In making creative work, we must make it for ourselves.

Here are my five takeaways:

TAKEAWAY #1: It takes time to become great. People who ARE great endured years of being not great before they got to okay, then decent, then great. They put themselves out there, accept feedback, and utilize that feedback to get better.

TAKEAWAY #2: Stopping procrastination means treating the underlying problem, not the symptoms. We constantly find ourselves wishing we would stop procrastinating when we sit down to face the work, yet we have note apps, post-its, planners and timers... finding new ways to record what we need to do will not fix what is stopping you from working.

TAKEAWAY #3: Conscious decision making is key. Know what is in your life and what your goals are. Time can be our best friend or worst enemy, especially when we have an ample amount of it. Also, use what you know about your life and goals to face and make the necessary decisions and tradeoffs. Do not let your unconsciousness affect your quality of life.

TAKEAWAY #4: Know the real, competing tradeoffs. You do not have to choose over life experiences and your creative goals. It is the choice between everything you want and several other options that you specifically lose out on. We constantly deal with these dilemmas. Every choice we make, every time we prioritize one thing over another, there are sacrifices we make financially, emotionally, or relationally. TAKEAWAY #5: There is no shame in asking for support. Sometimes we need support from like-minded people to help sustain us as we become comfortable with both making work and putting it out into the world. We need, and often crave, creative accountability. The feedback drives our work: it pushes us.

JUST ONE MORE TAKEAWAY: DECIDE. Face the dilemma and make the hard decision. Stop fantasizing and do the real work, the hard work: move forward.

ABOUT THE ARTIST Jessica Abel has been a professional creative for over 20 years. She is the author, co-author, and co- series editor of many books, has two kids, is married, a homeowner, a professor, and she runs a business. Abel knows how difficult it is to make a crazy chaotic creative life work, but she also knows it is worth it. Her passion lies in helping creative people take full control of their lives and make their own decisions about what is best for them and where to devote their energy. In her coaching and in her program, the Creative Focus Workshop, she brings 20 years of classroom and online teaching to the table. Abel has taught at the School of Visual Arts, in the master’s program at l’École européenne supérieure de l’image, in the MFA in Comics program at the California College of Arts, and at the School of the Art Institute of Chicago, among others. She currently serves as chair of Illustration at Pennsylvania Academy of Fine Arts.

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