Real artists live constructively. And they work constructively. They’ve learned to do their work despite flitting feelings. They’ve learned to be consistent, persistent, and professional. They’ve learned to get things done, and ship their babies out into the harsh, judgmental world.
Real artists know something pseudo artists don’t.
If pseudo artists knew this, they wouldn’t be what they are—a shadow of their real selves, a glint of their real potential. They wouldn’t do what they do—procrastinate, loaf, and let their emotions control their actions.
What Pseudo Artist’s Don’t Know
What pseudo artists don’t know is that in each moment of the day, they are in charge of their behaviour. They’re in charge, despite how they’re feeling at the time.
Time and time again, pseudo artists drop the ball, bail on responsibilities and fail in endeavours because of how they’re “feeling.”
“I couldn’t keep up with the job because I’m lazy.”
“I couldn’t finish the project because I’m a perfectionist.”
“I haven’t begun the project because I’m a procrastinator.”
“I can’t stay disciplined because I’m too emotional.”
Now, I don’t mean to point fingers here. I’m only talking about this topic because at one time, I was a pseudo artist. (A pseudo artist, by my definition, is a person with creative talent, or creative potential, who’s not using it—largely because they lack self-discipline, and let their petty, fleeting emotions control their actions.)
Being a pseudo artist sucks; it’s frustrating and draining.
But I’m starting to outgrow that phase. It starts with adopting a constructive mindset, an attitude of a real artist.
A Real Artist’s Mindset
This mindset can be summed up like this: We can control our actions, and do what needs doing, regardless of how we’re feeling. We can paint a portrait, make an album or write a short story—even if we’re depressed or angry or anxious.
Feelings should not determine whether we should write that song or work on that comic strip.
Because feelings are not us—they’re just feelings. They come and go. They peak and wane. Sometimes we don’t even know where they come from.
It’s bewildering to think that for most of my life, I let my “feelings” strongly influence how I made decisions, or how I handled adversity.
Since then, though, I’ve learned to place my attention on what I can do in this moment, not on how I feel. I don’t try to manipulate my emotions—to feel happier, more energetic or more content—by will alone, because emotions cannot be manipulated by one’s will. If you’re feeling glum, for example, there’s no point in trying to “not feel glum.” It just won’t work.
What’s in our control, however, is how we act.
Even if you’re feeling glum, you can look for tasks that need to be done (tasks that are, of course, important to you). For me, it’s my writing that needs to get done. So, regardless of whether I feel lazy or frustrated or gloomy, I do it. And, paradoxically, the act of getting my writing done improves my mood. Accomplishing small writing goals strengthens my emotional spirit.
The reason is simple: actions influence feelings. Feelings should follow action, but not the other way around. Because if we let our feelings guide our actions, like pseudo artists often do, we could end up with a wasted, unfulfilled life.
Real artists know this.
Pseudo artists do not.