The creative process is simultaneously incredibly grueling, challenging, emotionally draining, fulfilling, and rejuvenating. I constantly have to remind myself to keep putting in all the unseen hours - with the faith that diligent work does pay off. Most of the pieces of art that I'm happy with and proud of, involved struggle. Hours and hours of struggle, frustration, and self-doubt. I have to remind myself all the time that it's part of the process and part of the art.
When I was in school, my senior art class operated on two-week deadlines. I remember every other Tuesday night I would be up late cursing my computer or paints - drowning in uncertainty. Is this good? Is this the best I can do? Will I get mercilessly destroyed in the critique session tomorrow and watch all my self-esteem as an artist go down the drain? It was never as bad as I thought it would be. The added pressure to perform made me a better artist.
I try to put myself into the same mindset with my work now. I have no hard deadlines on many of my own personal projects so it's easy to let it all slide by and never put in the struggle hours to perfect something. But I'm working on it! And lately I find myself putting in more meaningful hours to work and the results feel better.