There is no secret to being an artist.
You can go to school, read every self-help book, follow every blog. (I know, I’ve tried.) No short-cuts exist. You show up, you do the work, and you keep striving to make really great art.
I think I own more Seth Godin novels than Harry Potter ones, and I’ve followed Harry through all seven years of Hogwarts. I read his blog, subscribe even, and I trust what he says because it makes sense. Because I need to be reminded, every day, to make art.
I own The War of Art, The FireStarter Sessions, and The $100 Startup. I watch Marie Forleo’s Q&A Tuesday *every* Tuesday. I’m entertained, enlightened, and inspired by the quality and straight forward advice these authors give. This is my secret cheerleader & mentor squad. I keep them in my inbox and e-reader and I don’t just read what they have to say; I follow their advice.
I’ve watched Elizabeth Gilbert’s TED talk on genius countless times. If I need to be reminded about the beauty of showing up, I watch it again.
If you are searching for a magic fix, or 5 step program… it doesn’t exist. It looks more like:
- Work hard. Work hard. Work harder. Go to bed. Wake up. Do it all again.
- The flow, the genius, your muse… will not show up if you don’t. So, show up, everyday, prepared to work.
- Make a lot of work, even if you don’t feel like it.
- Work, even if it takes years for you to create the art you see in your mind.
This isn’t necessarily bad news, it just means you have to do the work. Thinking about your work, researching for your work, and doing the work are not the same. In order to be an artist, you have to make art. It sounds easy, it’s not.
Ira Glass says it better, and there is a lovely video to illustrate:
I need to watch this every day. I need to be reminded of this every time I go to repaint the face on a painting that I have been working on since January. There isn’t a magic trick, self help book, or bullet-ed list to get you there. You show up, you do the work. Tedious, boring, lonely slog? Keep working. You’ll find the magic, the flow, the genius too. Make your art and grab yourself a couple of cheerleaders, if you need ’em.
That’s @Kat_McBride on twitter, if you’re saavy.