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Tag: discipline

It Could Always Be Worse—or Better

It Could Always Be Worse—or Better

Saying “it could be worse” can invalidate emotions and circumstances. It not that you want to try to always be positive. But “things can only get better” isn’t superior. That’s unrealistic and possibly harmful, too.

But if you say one, remember the other is just as valid. It’s a tempering move, something to brace against while you tackle to tough, real world with your soft feelings and ideas. Feel your feelings and keep moving along, move forward, move even though you’re afraid. Make stuff and make the next stuff better than this stuff. Sometimes that’s enough.

Getting Past Your Need for Perfection and Finishing Your Work Is Vital

Getting Past Your Need for Perfection and Finishing Your Work Is Vital

There’s no shortage of creativity coaches out there. Advice abounds on techniques and tools, finding styles, getting inspired and so on. I don’t think it’s stated enough that you should finish your things. People really do get stuck in attempts to make the best thing they can make.

In art school, you often have no choice about finishing pieces, because there’s a bloody deadline breathing down your neck with a fearsome fiery breath, and you’re going to damn well get your ass in gear. I think this is an advantage to paying money for art school. You get a set of projects and have to complete them.

I tend to believe you should:

  1. Work. Exercise your praxis. Do the thing.
  2. Finish the stuff you begin.
  3. Make another thing.

It’s totally true that a lot of would-be artists/writers/musicians never get anything done because they can’t start. They’re so wrapped up in the vision and their (imagined) inability to match it, fear stops them cold. They’re the Never-Good-Enoughs.

Then there are those who start a boatload of things because, hey, art! But they never finish them because it’s hard to get through the boring middle part where you realize it’s a hell of a lot of work to complete things. These are the Forever-Beginners.

One secret I learned pretty fast is that your finished piece will never match your vision—except in extraordinarily rare circumstances. The artists who get a lot of shit done are very okay with this fact, and by getting a lot of stuff done, ironically, they get ever closer to matching their vision to their work.

it happens gradually, but you need things to compare to, and there’s nothing that shows your progress more than the thing you made three years ago, if you kept making things along the way. This is being simply an artist. You’ll learn how long you should take on a piece the more you make.

Meet the New Resolutions, Same as the Old Resolutions

Meet the New Resolutions, Same as the Old Resolutions

    1. Read more books, rather than online feeds and articles (shifting from scanning to close reading)
    1. Spend time in active listening to music (I used to do this when a favorite band released a new album: just listening to the tracks and doing nothing else the first time through)
    2. Get back into an education routine (regular scheduled class time made school the easiest investment in learning)

    Progress is ongoing, let’s see how it shakes out in 360 days!

    Winter Holidays Exert a Kind or Manic Weight on Many of Us

    Winter Holidays Exert a Kind or Manic Weight on Many of Us

    It’s not that Christmas and Hanukkah and the rest are oppressive, thought for some they are. We have the joy of the season, but there are some amount of blues that come along with cold air and holiday music.

    Our job is to keep shifting those feelings into our work. Once anything is a part of your process, whatever you’re feeling is your new platform. Stand there and make the new thing.

    Tired

    Tired

    You won’t be able to tell, looking back, the days you were tired and the days you were energized. The days you felt organized and the days you felt scattered. The times you were uninspired, lost, unsure and the times you were abuzz, on-track, confident.

    Just something every day, and it comes together in the end. Whatever it becomes, eventually, there’s no point in waiting to get that chunk of it done because the pieces don’t care how you feel in the transitory moment, they care how they fit with each other as a permanent whole.

    The Thing About Art School

    The Thing About Art School

    It works. It’s probably faster. But it’s not much materially you couldn’t learn on your own with the help of some books and instructional videos.

    But art school, like many degrees, leads to a network of fellow artists. If you’re lucky, a few want to be curators—or publishers—and they like your work. I don’t regret at all the time I spent inside mine. But it should never be a reason not to start doing your thing, nor a reason to disparage where you are. School will almost always have the advantage in keeping your disciplined and on a path, even if that drifts and veers, sometimes along the way.

    Lots of artists have done the academic thing, and lots have figured out their own way outside it. What matters is keeping it up, moving forward.

    There’s No Trick to It, It’s Just a Simple Trick

    There’s No Trick to It, It’s Just a Simple Trick

    You may think it’s a race. There’s a lot of pressure on us to perform and achieve and produce. You’re looked down on a bit if you aren’t concerned with improving your productivity. To see the flood of self-help business books is to know there’s a relentless push to get more done.

    But there are two ways to approach the problem of not working on your thing, or finishing work. One is to let productivity gurus sell you on another system, new tricks to slash work time and grow the done pile. It’s fine if that appeals to you. But it’s stressful, and leads to burnout.

    And it distracts you from just plainly doing the work, which is certainly what often suckers me into the shiny new system.

    The other way is easy, because you need nothing extra: establish a daily habit of uninterrupted creation time and get a little further along finishing a project. It really does pile up faster than you think. It’s less stressful and unpretentious, but it lets you end a year with the done pile impressively high.

    Not Listening to the Helpful Voices

    Not Listening to the Helpful Voices

    I spend a lot of time watching videos and listening to podcasts made by other artists who have long passed by the same shores I’ve started walking. Looking back, it seems like I’ve been walking a hell of a long time, but the paths wind, double back on themselves, and take wild liberties with direction. They don’t often stay close to the water. Throwing aside that soon-to-be-tortured metaphor, I don’t plan to stop sharing videos and shows that inspire me. Secrets are revealed! Tricks are exposed! Methods are explained! But they can easily take the place of doing your own work, and you let fear take the helm—oop, new metaphor alert!There has to be a limit on advice and tutorials and demos. As soon as possible, and for as long as possible, you have to make some stuff. You need to shove your hand-wringing monkey ego aside and deliver unto us your crappy, clumsy work. Because it’s only when you can show stuff to people that you’re able to build on it and become uncrappy. Videos are amazing. We get to hear and see brilliant, insightful creators tell us how they do their thing. But we have to shush them up and nudge them aside when they become just another way to avoid doing what we’re listening to them for in the first place.

    The Struggle Is Really Real

    The Struggle Is Really Real

    Speaking of failures, I’m still spending way too much time reading news, political analysis, and random minutiae online, despite a redoubled effort to shift my attention to creating stuff and reading books.

    Distraction is easier all the time. Setting out to write this post, I have opened Spotify, messed with battery settings, checked text messages, started to read emails twice and realized what I was doing—it’s really endless.

    I’ve learned how to circumvent this monkey mind dopamine loop—MMDL in the literature, I’m pretty sure—pragmatically: make your to-do list he night before, stick to it in Pomodoro segments, start early. It’s still always there, and it’s always a fight. Habits of distraction built up over years, as my social media and information overload have been, are really really hard to break.

    I don’t have any real advice, here, maybe just an ongoing reminder that almost nobody knows what they’re doing and is muddling through it all just like you. Unless you’re effective and prolifically productive. In that case, teach me your ways, kind stranger.