Taking Dogged Action—The Third Pillar of Improvement

Image by hannahtashkovich (Creative Commons)

This is the third instalment of a series called: the Four Pillars of Improvement. In the first two posts of this series on how to improve your skills, we’ve learned two lessons: get knowledge and get an instructor. If you’ve taken this advice seriously, you’re ready to deeply study your craft. You’re ready to find an instructor and have them guide and train you.

Once you get into the habit of doing these things—studying your craft often and learning from a mentor—it’s time to do. 

The first two stages are thinking stages. This is the doing stage.

Taking action involves applying what you’ve learned through your study, through your coaching. Try to write a song from scratch. Try to paint something worthy of recognition. Try your hand at writing a short story.

Even if you suck—try. Remember: as an artist, all you can ever do is try. We don’t need you to be perfect. We don’t need you to be the next great artist/ musician/ poet. Of course, that would be awesome, but when it comes to creating, it’s not a prerequisite. We just need you to do the best you can, and to be you. Don’t worry, you’ll get better as you start to create and learn from your mistakes. For now, just take what you’ve learned so far and make something. Anything. Follow your instincts.

You’re a creator, remember? So start acting like one.



Then go back to the lab, back to the books, back to your instructor, and reload your creative fuel tank for the next action sequence. This is how you and I will improve.

So far we’ve discussed three pillars of improvement: acquiring knowledge, getting a mentor, and taking action. There’s a final ingredient, though, and it’s getting feedback. We’ll discuss that next Monday.

Until then, go do something that applies all that information you’ve acquired, all that stuff you’ve learned in art school. It’s only when you and I get into the habit of consistently creating, that we can call ourselves true “creatives.” Until then, we’re just dreamers, pseudo artists that never take action.

It’s time to turn that corner and become real artists: artists who don’t let unwritten books, unpainted portraits, and unsung songs slumber in their imaginations; artists who take action.


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