(For Musicians, Artists, and Yes, Steven Pressfield, for Anyone Trying to Achieve Six Pack Abs, LOL)
It's in every moment… are you advancing or retreating toward your dreams? I think true accomplishment takes a combination of military like discipline with daily goals as well as getting lost in the artistic wilderness of imagination. There is a path for you if you believe in yourself, and that's not an empty phrase.
Chutzpah is a great word I learned as a kid from the Jewish and/or Italian side of my family. It's the energy needed for an artist to blossom and rise above the fray of uncertainty, the sea of doubt, the wild grasses of disbelief.
If you're going to be an artist, your biggest naysayers may be all around you: your family, best friends, colleagues, teachers even, voices of society…with notable exceptions of course but unless you're super lucky to be surrounded by "believing mirrors" you're subject to be doubted at every twist and turn of your metaphorical road.
So what's an artist to do?
Well, we're called human beings and not human "doings" for a reason. We need to be before we do. (Unless the doing is happening from a state of inspired being). If your doing is a result of overthinking, uninspired action, stale vision, worried thoughts…suffice to say that doesn't sound very inspired and sounds like you're merely spinning your wheels.
Which may sound like a lot of New Age jargon (which you may or may not be cool with) but hold on a minute.
This blog post is intended to be both inspiring and practical for the artist.
So…from a down to earth perspective, if your "beingness" is one of stubborn self-belief (as well as social humility) and unshakeable knowing in your art, well then...voila!
However, if you're whining and complaining and taking the lazy way out, no dice.
I heard Eckhart Tolle say that life is meant to challenge us. I agree. And we can inspire ourselves to face the challenge or complain, gossip, succumb to negativity, be lazy, quit, take the "safe road", etc.
One of the saddest things I hear is when artists are discouraged to pursue their art (music, dancing, painting, drawing, poetry, etc).
Now what I'm writing about may seem so obviously obvious…but…. Do you know how many hours of self help, inspiring and spiritual material I have listened to, how many pages I have read, and still managed to be self-defeating and succumb to my own inner demons?
So yeah, that's embarrassing. But it finally dawned upon me, that I can simply and humbly do what I love. Step by step. Day by day. Without worry or stress or obsession or perfectionism. Letting go of those toxic thoughts daily. Those thoughts are trash. Laugh at them and toss them in the bin.
I think perfectionism is one of the biggest enemies of the artist.
So my challenge for you is: can you take a step toward furthering your creativity or art career, out of joy and with purposeful imperfection?
Singers… can you post that video to YouTube with that pitchy note or phrase that wasn't quite your best, but the overall vibe is wondrous?
Can you send out that nice tweet without obsessing over every tiny little minutiae?
Can you write that song and allow it to be?
Let it be.
Let it go.
These phrases are coined for a reason.
Of course, you're going to want to keep improving the mechanics of your art.
BUT WAITING AROUND UNTIL IT'S PERFECT IS A DREAM, LOST.
How many artists are embarrassed by their early work, yet so appreciated by their fans?
You're going to worry about criticism when I imagine probably every famous artist out there has been criticized?
It's such a shame that folks assume that if you're an artist, you're either famous or a failure. Do you say that to your teacher or doctor or plumber??? I can't take credit for that idea… I'm not sure where I originally heard it… but what a concept. Thank you! (My guess would be Derek Sivers).
It's fine as well to want to be well known, but after all, is that not an immature mechanism of the ego? Business goals and social media metrics aside, how about simply making the best art you can everyday and going from there?
It's not about saying "yeah, yeah I know all this….duh…."
ARE YOU DOING THIS?
If you're complaining constantly, the answer is no.
If you're stuck in a sad sad situation, my heart truly goes out to you, but where there's a will there's a way. There are times I have had to sing in my car because I've had nowhere else to practice.
To be honest, I really can't afford vocal lessons right now.
But I can't afford not to.
Not that I'm advocating going into debt to fund your dreams… that's the realm of your very personal choices, of course, but I believe the opportunities that arise from the artist that seeks expansion, are limitless.
Some further suggestions…
- Are you doing everything the same old way? Listening to your favorite artists over and over again? Have you ever listened to music from a decade or culture or style you're not too familiar with? TRY IT. GOOGLE SOMETHING. There are no excuses not to immerse yourself in new artistic experiences.
- Are you on social media? There's no reason not to be connecting with other artists and musicians.
- Are you overwhelmed? No excuse! That's just an excuse to not take a step. Doing one little thing is much better than saying "I'm overwhelmed" and sitting on the couch.
- Are you tired? No excuse! It's amazing what the human mind and body and spirit are capable of. Have you ever stayed up all night to finish a paper? But you can't work on your Art?
- Are you obsessive/perfectionistic about every detail of your art to the point where you're not ever sharing it or worse, not even creating it? Stop it. Let it be imperfect, flawed and even wrong. That's another lousy excuse for not being productive. Frankly, it's immature and selfish. IMHO. You're denying humanity your gifts and withholding your light to sit in darkness when humanity can benefit from your beautiful expressions. I know… I've been there.
And so I end my musing at the beginning:
Spirited action is the wings upon which dreams fly.