I’ve kept an eye open for Matt Magee‘s work, because we’re exploring some similar territory. Breaking down the elements of thought and image are sometimes meticulous to an obsessive level. But they’re always appealing.
Liking What You Do Is More Important Than What It Is
Speaking strictly about art (although it might apply to other things), what smart people in the distant past have understood is that your passion for your work brings out the deepest levels and the ideas that are most you. And being yourself is the ultimate goal.
We understand it today because it becomes obvious pretty fast—if you look—that imitating others’ success only gets a little traction, professionally and personally. You’ll almost certainly enjoy your work the more it comes from within you. You don’t have to wonder if it fits the current trends, just that it’s yours. It’s sometimes possible to game the system a bit, but it won’t be as fulfilling as following your own path.
We all stand on the shoulders of our heroes and our predecessors. We learn by practicing and imitating. But the most fun and the most rewarding things are becoming more completely yourself. And it won’t matter what that is, it’ll matter how you feel about it.
The Experience of Failure and Its Diminishing Negative Effects
NaNoWriMo has come and gone. For the second time, I haven’t finished my novel. I have failed to do something.
It’s really no big deal. I fail at a lot of things I try. So does anyone who attempts anything big, or beyond their comfort zone, their routine. Unless you were all talk, it matters that you didn’t just say you were going to do something, but that you actually tried. The important thing is to recognize you broke out of the regular day and leapt.
There are always lessons to learn in any creative attempt. The things we learn today can be applied to what we do tomorrow. They help make those things easier, and there will be successes based on everything we know and have learned. And, often, we had fun! There was joy in making things we didn’t know how to make.
The more we try these new things, unfamiliar things, harder and deeper and more demanding things, the more we learn about life, ourselves, and creativity. The more we do them, the less importance failure has on our existence, and the easier it is to try something else that’s new, or that we know better how to complete.
The fact that I fell down isn’t as important. Getting up and keeping moving forward is.
The Habit of a Daily Thing, and How to Overcome Your Own Resistance
I’ve been working my way through Jerry Saltz’s “How to Be an Artist.” It’s full of good things to carry away, in typically acerbic Saltz-style. There’s plenty to think about—and things to do!—within his 33 rules.
One of his early rules is just to work. You have to work to be an artist. You don’t have to be great, or even very good. But if you aren’t creating. . . something, you’re not what you say you want to be. The habit is one way to keep creating, to make it just part of your routines, the stuff you just have to do every day.
And here’s to overcoming fear to become what you want to be. It’s intimidating, starting out. Its also worth the cost in time and energy.
Getting sick is a strange sensation when it creeps up on you. I tend to run worst-case scenarios in my head, but almost always it’s not as bad as I think it might be.
Probably a lesson there for our creative lives, too. However bad we think our work is, there’s good in it, there’s effort and expression. That’s enough for a small piece of what you’re working to make and to be.
Cold Nights and the Intensity of Feeling Alive Mirror Creative Shifts
This is weird, but with winter, the shifts outside in temperature and severe weather can be like those inside.
The cold can be bracing, even exciting, provided we have someplace to be and to warm up again. Starting a creative project can be similar. If we have an idea of the end, of where we might be going, what it looks like to be done, the work can be a thrill.
Going in completely blind is really rare, and scary. We can shut down before we know it. We don’t need a road map, but we also don’t want a completely open-ended journey where we could be gone for a day or for 20 years. We lose patience and enthusiasm with a random wandering. Deciding on some kind of end is as good as knowing there’s a fire at home after the long walk from the bus stop.
Tips on Working Your Day Job and Still Making Creative Projects Happen