Robert Genn recently talked about this and how it relates to painting – but as he so often does, he makes some good observations metaphorically about overworking in life. Here are some of them:
“Perfectionism presses atavistically on the human soul. The need for something better, something perfect is hard wired into our DNA. Unfortunately, some people think perfection can be achieved by simply continuing.”
“Guilt is that part of human nature that has us think we need to give or do something penitent to be more worthwhile within ourselves. Unnatural sacrifice and latent guilt are the wrong reasons to do anything.”
Facility is the persistence of a particular skill or technique. The mere presence of cleverness does not obligate its use. Example: A talented draftsman may become tedious with too much drawing.
“The fear of unknown outcome. This is a tricky one. While a lot of art involves exploration and discovery, another ploy is to have a pretty clear idea of how you want to end up, and stop there. When an outcome is unknown, there’s a tendency to continue to work toward an unsatisfactory one. “To be a painter,” said Picasso, “you need to know how to paint, and when to stop.”
“Too much riding on it. Artists often notice overworking when expectations or obligations are highest such as commissions or solo shows. Spontaneity fails. A casual attitude begets freshness.”
“Thinking too much. Sure, thinking is good, but your brain is perpetually thundering down the tracks with intent to derail your creativity.”