This article will help you banish some of the big excuses you may be using that keep you from being a productive, healthy artist. But before that, let’s define what the words healthy and unhealthy artist actually mean (to me, anyway).
Healthy artists transform their ideas, insights and emotions into useful creations. They’re self-disciplined and active. They do their work even if they’re in a foul mood. By working in the real world, healthy artists gain a realistic outlook on life. By consistently engaging their talents, they discover things about themselves.
Unhealthy artists, on the other hand, are controlled by their ideas, insights and emotions. Their foul moods dictate whether they’ll work on that screenplay or not. Their thinking is often negative. They’re stuck in their imagination. They dream and reflect, but at the end of each day they have little to show for it.
No paintings, no screenplays, no drawings.
Typically, this is how an unhealthy artist feels: they have creative energy, but they’re unsure how to use it. They feel stuck, restless, and anxious. They depend on all forms of escapism because they fear boredom, which usually stems from a fear of being alone. Because when they’re alone in the house with nobody around, they hear the faint whispers of their authentic selves.
You should write that book. You should take that acting class. You should form that band.
The voice is very faint. But they hear it. And they feel guilty. Even still, unhealthy artists continue to make excuses for not pursuing their life’s work. Let’s address those excuses, fearlessly, right now, so that you can stop avoiding your destiny and become a healthy artist.
Reaching out to people means you lose your individuality.
Creative people usually feel special, unique, one of a kind. And they believe that by entering the real world, getting a normal job, and being socially involved, they will lose that uniqueness. I have two objections to that:
1. You will never lose your uniqueness by getting outside yourself and identifying with others. Nobody can change your natural identity. That will be yours forever no matter where you go, what you do, and who you spend your days with. If you’re an imaginative person—you’ll always be imaginative.
By engaging with the real world and reaching out to people, you allow the best, unique parts of you to shine even more brightly. When you retire to your studio, you’ll have more real and more vivid ideas to create with than before (when you were secluded and self-absorbed). Any artist who is too reclusive, too different, and too independent will never reach her potential. And I’m sure you desire to reach your potential.
Remember: You find yourself in others, not in a black hole.
2. You’re not that different from everybody else. You’re not that unique. We’re all human; we all generally go through the same experiences. And by breaking free of this attachment to being special, you can function more healthily and productively.
Here’s a how to detach from this belief in your separateness: look at what you do as ‘normal work’ instead of ‘art’. You’ll feel more connected and integrated with society, because you have a regular job to show up for like everybody else.
You are reluctant, even afraid, to reveal your authentic self.
Any creative act is largely about revealing yourself—and this takes courage. Having the nerve to share your true self comes easier for some than it does for others. But remember, it’s still an excuse we use to keep ourselves comfortable. Here’s how to destroy that excuse:
Start small—make art that reflects your true self, and it will resonate in the hearts of others. This positive reaction will encourage you to make your work even more authentic the next time—this positive cycle will undoubtedly make you come to love who you are.
Making art means being free and spontaneous, not structured and disciplined.
You may believe that creativity happens without planning or forcing it, or that creative people operate on a different schedule than the rest of society. You probably have a strong instinct to avoid self-discipline.
But self-discipline gives you the power to shape your inner world into something useful and inventive. You may have outstanding ideas, insight, and creativity, but the world will never see your gifts if you’re not self-disciplined. By implementing regular exercise, sleep habits, and work structure into your life, you put yourself in a better position to employ your creative gifts. By physically forcing yourself into motion, you will only actualize and strengthen your true, creative nature.
To make great art, you need to feel negative emotions strongly.
You’re creative. You’ll make great art regardless—you don’t need to be depressed. That’s a false belief that holds you back in life.
As a creative, you’re naturally inclined to be sensitive to details and to experience emotions strongly. But if you’re too gloomy to work effectively and engage others, you have to keep these stormy moods in check. Being in a dark mood all the time will pollute your work more than it invigorates.
So, are you ready to change?
Once you confront these four excuses, you can integrate yourself into a healthier, more productive version of you. Wouldn’t you want that? Your creative mind can work for you or against you. It can be lighter fluid for a painting or a story, or it can weigh you down with regret and self-contempt.
The power to change is always in your grasp.
This is not an exhaustible list of excuses; it’s just a few big ones. If there are any more excuses you use to stay away from the easel/ blank page/ studio, share them in the comments.
Image by familymwr