I recently wrote 10 Things I Want You to Know When You Are Discovering or Recovering Your Creative Heart . Now, I have a message for those of you who are, beyond a shadow of a doubt, (okay, there is still shadow and doubt,) to your creativity.
1. There will be dark days. There will be days when you doubt your work, the world and yourself. It doesn’t mean you don’t know what you’re doing. It doesn’t mean you are not meant for this. Emotional storms are inevitable on the creative journey. Develop practices that support you when they arrive. Move your body. Journal. Change your environment. Get extra sleep. Give yourself a port in the storm.
2. It’s Worth It. Especially on those dark days, you may question whether it is worth it, whether this art that calls you is a divine guide or a siren song. The truth is, whatever happens, your artistic heart is undeniable. It has been and always will be with you. Be true to it, no matter what. If you find yourself suffering too much and too long, change something. Take a break. Make a shift. You could be you on the wrong path but you are not on the wrong journey. Never doubt your creative compass. Following true north is always worth it.
3. Honour the Work. Having built a relationship with art and creativity, you are a part of a tribe of people whose devotion tends to the creative fire not only for your self but also for all of us. Whether you are creating, observing, teaching or learning, honour the work. How you show up to art is a model for others. Be a powerful and positive representative wherever you are.
4. Commit to your craft. In order to bridge the gap between what you envision and what you create, continue to hone your skills. A master is never done. S/he has embarked on a lifetime of learning. Don’t get discouraged or complacent. Embrace the journey. Delight in discovery. Do the work.
5. Tune Your Instrument. Always be in creative practice. Keep limber. Don’t take for granted the hard-earned skills you have developed. Keep them sharp and yourself spry so you are ready for creative inspiration and challenge when it arrives. Be ready to play.
6. Trust Your Artistic Voice. As we create, we look for clues that we’re on to something. Some are internal clues, like when your hair stands on end, when tears fill your eyes or laughter escapes into the air. These are all signs that yes, this is it! This is the resonance we look for, that place where our artistic voice and our creation are dancing. There are also external clues, like when the room falls silent or bursts into applause, when people praise your work or pan it. You must trust the internal most of all. Even if your income relies on people loving your work, you must make time in your studio for creating what is unwaveringly true to your artistic voice.
7. There is always a new edge. As a creative, you will always be dancing on the edge of what you know. Inspiration will take you beyond what you’ve done before into new territory. Over and over again, let yourself be a beginner. It will require bravery. It will demand leaving your ego at the door. Become masterful at being a novice. You and the work will be richer for it.
8. Don’t let money define you. When we are serious about our creative practice and our creative work, we often assume that the best path is to make it our profession. That is a good and noble path but it is not the only one. In fact, sometimes our motivation for transforming our passion into our profession is that we want the world and our loved ones (often our partners) to believe that our art is worthy of our devotion. We may also be seeking financial proof that we are worthy of being called an artist. Money does not define you. If you show up with sincere devotion, if you commit to your craft and do the work, if you build a body of work that is true to you, you are worthy.
9. There are more ideas than time. Though it might not feel like it, this is a blessing not a problem. You are a traveller blessed with a world so vast and beautiful it is greater than one person, greater than one lifetime. There is always a next adventure – the next project to create, the next idea to bring to life, the next level of excellence to reach. Let go of the paralyzing need to have it all and instead choose and create. Then choose and create again and again and again. Then, instead of a wall of frustration, you will be building a body of work. You will be using your time, not losing it.
10. Leave a Legacy. Every now and then in your creative life, stop to gather and celebrate your accomplishments. Frame 7 pieces. Create a portfolio. Put on a show. Pull your work together into a book and bind it. However you do it, create a frame around the work that says, “I made this,” so that you can see the fruits of your artistic labour – the progress, the passion, the personality. Tell your story. Share your work. Be a part of the creative conversation. Take your place amongst those for whom creativity and art are central to life. Take your place, because that is your truth and you belong.
And one more…
Be a Light. No matter where you are on the journey, you are ahead of some and behind others. Just as you hope those ahead will guide the way, be a light to those behind you. Be generous with your knowledge, especially if it is hard-won. Be welcoming, especially if you know what it is to be intimidated to enter. Add your wisdom to the collective pool and your artistic life will move us all forward.