THE SLUMP

DISCLAIMER

The contents of this article are for information and educational purposes only. Patriot Propaganda does not officially recommend using any of the tactics, techniques or procedures presented. 

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“Between the acting of a dreadful thing and the first motion, all the interim is like a phantasm or a hideous dream. The genius and the moral instruments are then in council, and the state of a man, like to a little kingdom, suffers then the nature of an insurrection.” WILLIAM SHAKESPEARE, JULIUS CAESAR

THERE IS ANOTHER IMPORTANT, and frustrating, stage of the creative process. It’s called The Slump. No matter how great a project idea is, at some point in the process of making it happen, an invisible authority will make itself heard, often in your own voice, telling you, “This will never work!” or making innumerable other utterances falling within the category of Reasons to Quit. Ask any creative person and, if they’re honest, they’ll tell you this happens at some point in every project. 

The Slump often looks something like this: 

You start up real high, with a great plan, full of confidence, and then, as you seek to bring things to fruition, the inevitable decline begins: you don’t have the budget you need, the materials you wanted are not available, it’s not looking like you thought it would… until you hit the point where you contemplate quitting.

But if you don’t quit and you work your way through The Slump, you will start to climb back up: a friend comes through with a donation, the limitations in materials force you to make interesting changes—it looks different, but in a good way. The place you reach may never be as high as where you began, as reality never meets expectations, but it’ll be good enough. 

And remember: The Slump will try to trick you into thinking it’s The Critic from the AAPM. Don’t be fooled though eh. The voice can sound like the smartest, most rational voice you’ve ever heard. It’s wrong. 

EXERCISE YOUR DEMON

Time: 5 minutes

This is a simple exercise to practice anytime you hear a voice telling you that what you are doing will never work, that it’s stupid, you are stupid, and this whole art activism thing is just a waste of time and you’d be better off painting watercolours alone, handing out informational pamphlets on the street, or going back to bed to bingewatch episodes of your favourite shows while eating ice cream from the carton.

1)     Home in on the voice that tells you to give up and picture it. Who is it exactly? What do they look like? Give this voice a form. Draw it.

2)     Look at your drawing and say, in a friendly but firm way, “thanks for the critical input, but I need you to stop now.” 

3)     Then imagine giving this creature a big hug and letting them join your side. Why? Because this voice is part of you. We can’t deny this voice, because we can’t deny a part of ourselves, but we can put it in perspective. If there’s something useful in the demon’s criticism, take note and use it. Otherwise, quickly move on to step four. 

4)     Thank the demon again for their comments, then ask them to go away.

CONCLUSION

The Slump man… Oooof. Every art activist wrestles with it. Know that this throat-constricting voice will always be there, and embrace the suck. It’s a part of the maturation process. When it happens (and it will), give the above exercise a try, and with more experience, you’ll get through it every time like a champ. 

REFERENCES:

This article was adapted from Duncombe, Stephen, and Steve Lambert. The Art of Activism: Your All-Purpose Guide to Making the Impossible Possible. OR Books, 2021.

Other References:

Sharp, Gene. From Dictatorship to Democracy. Serpent’s Tail, 2022.

Beer, Michael, et al. Civil Resistance Tactics in the 21st Century. International Center on Nonviolent Conflict, 2021.

Popović, Srđa, and Hardy Merriman. CANVAS Core Curriculum: A Guide to Effective Nonviolent Struggle: Students Book. Serbia, CANVAS, 2007.

Marovic, Ivan. The Path of Most Resistance: A Step-By-Step Guide to Planning Nonviolent Campaigns, 2nd Edition. International Center on Nonviolent Conflict, 2021.

Sholette, Gregory. The Art of Activism and the Activism of Art. New York, United States, Macmillan Publishers, 2022.

Clark, Howard; Garate. Handbook for Nonviolent Campaigns. Revised edition, War resisters’ International, 2022.

Thompson, Nato. Seeing Power: Art and Activism in the Twenty-first Century. Melville House, 2015. 

Gavin, Francesca, and Alain Bieber. The Art of Protest: Political Art and Activism. Gestalten, 2022.

Miller, Matthew, and Srđa Popović. Blueprint for Revolution: How to Use Rice Pudding, Lego Men, and Other Nonviolent Techniques to Galvanize Communities, Overthrow Dictators, or Simply Change the World. Random House, 2015.

Alinsky, Saul. Rules for Radicals: A Pragmatic Primer for Realistic Radicals. Vintage; Reissue edition, 1989.

Bernays, Edward. Propaganda. Ig Publishing, 2004.

Abbott, Daniel. The Handbook of 5GW: A Fifth Generation of War? Amsterdam, Netherlands, Adfo Books, 2021.

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