Have No Fear

My manager emailed me a book review earlier this afternoon in reference to a work-related project, but I immediately saw the larger application of the topic.  I would at some point like to pick up Art & Fear: Observations on the Perils (and Rewards) of Artmaking by David Bayles & Ted Orland, but for now some highlights from the review will have to suffice.

Art-making—which comes in many forms—is one way to fight fear.

In large measure becoming an artist consists of learning to accept yourself, which makes your work personal, and in following your own voice, which makes your work distinctive.

The most important point in the book is that art-making won’t happen without persistence. In all my reading on creativity, genius, success, and happiness, persistence is cited again and again as the secret ingredient.

Talent is rarely distinguishable, over the long run, from perseverance and lots of hard work.

THOSE WHO WOULD MAKE ART might well begin by reflecting on the fate of those who preceded them: most who began, quit.

When asked to list their top regrets, dying hospice patients gave this as their most common response: “I wish I’d had the courage to live a life true to myself, not the life others expected of me.” Being an artist is a way around this regret.

We carry real and imagined critics with us constantly — a veritable babble of voices, some remembered, some prophesied, and each eager to comment on all we do.

But living according to your needs, your goals, your joys will certainly be better than worrying about what everyone else is doing or thinking.

My favorite creative success stories are typically formulaic only in that they feature persistence + time somewhere in the equation.  Louis C.K. is a great contemporary example: the man has been working tirelessly as a professional comedian for close to thirty years; probably has really only found his timing, delivery, & style in the past twenty; and has been seeing the returns on his career investment grow near-exponentially in the last ten or so.

Why do I put so much pressure on myself to achieve everything now?  Ambition & persistence; longevity & integrity.

It’s all so simple, really — or it should be so simple.  The addict brain straight-up is hardwired for the NOW, and that is what I am working on: giving it space & room to breathe.

The only answer, to all the questions, is keep doing what you do.  Give it your all, every time.  Accept mistakes as a part of the process.  Learn from them, every day.  This…this is how greatness is achieved.

———

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