When pursuing anything artistic, unless you have an imposed deadline, you can take from now until the end of forever to complete a project. For non-commissioned work, a self-imposed deadline is usually necessary to complete a work of art. This got me thinking about the idea of everything happening in its own good time – or when it’s supposed to. Maybe this is true. But how well does it serve us to think this way? Somewhere along the line, the responsibility must lie with the artist to decide when they will write the words, compose the music, shoot the film, paint the painting, sculpt, carve, code…make something and share it with others.
We can get so caught up in the idea of trusting that the Universe will let us know when the time is right to create, that we spend our lives just waiting for the “sign”, and lose the time we might have spent just getting down to making our creations. Sometimes the bravest and smartest thing you can do is: sit down with a piece of paper and a pen; write down your artistic goals (hopefully they line up with your actual skill sets); write down a plan of execution, and a deadline (or deadlines) for your goals; and then get to it. When you’re reasonably happy with your creation, show it to someone you trust and respect; someone who will give you honest and constructive feedback. Work on the creation some more, and then find a way to share it with your fellow humans.
“If you wish to be a writer, write.“
In this day and age, there will be countless ways to share your creation, and no need to get tied down to any preconceived ways of distribution. You can submit your short film to festivals. You can also share your short film on YouTube. You can submit your book of poems or your songs to established publishers or record companies. You can also self-publish your book or sell your singles on iTunes. When something is supposed to happen, and when it actually happens, is often more in your hands than you might care to acknowledge. Procrastination is real and a demon to be fought at every turn. Our own sense of self-doubt is the biggest culprit for not getting our work done. Worrying about what others will think or say, or how they will react to our efforts, is another bothersome distraction. Meanwhile, those who would criticize you have usually not yet had the guts to put their own art out there. In fact, the most critical people in your life are often those who are frustrated artists themselves. This is not to say that constructive criticism can’t be useful. But you better be damn careful to whom you take your newborn creation for feedback.
“A man is a success if he gets up in the morning and gets to bed at night, and in between does what he wants to do.”
– Bob Dylan
Of course, not everything you create will be great. But the goal shouldn’t be “greatness” anyway. That’s overwhelming and completely subjective. The goal must be to improve as best you can, and not compare yourself to others. Embrace your own ideas. Set deadlines. Create. Find a way to share. Then repeat.
This is not to say that you have to create quickly. Some artists do create quickly. Other artists take their time working on projects because they create slowly and deliberately. But it’s up to the artist to honestly determine if they are actually really creating slowly and deliberately, or just procrastinating thoroughly and incessantly. If we’re honest with ourselves, most of us know the difference.
Lastly, we have to find a way to enjoy whatever process we choose. Or at least, find some sort of satisfaction in it. And we need to think about what we want to share with the world, and why we want to share it. We are, all of us, influenced by others, but what is our own unique insight? How does our own personal experience of the world translate to the stories we are telling? These questions may not even be conscious. But they will inform the work we create. And ultimately we will create that work in the time that we choose to take to create it.
Thanks for reading…