When You Are Convinced of Your Artistic Talents … and You Give Up
Think of the writing, the music, the acting and other works of art the world would miss if you stop now.
“Life got in the way.”
I know. I’ve been there. I’m 56-years-old and my career path as a novelist and a writer-producer for film and television has been fraught with ups and downs.
If you had any idea of the b.s. I’ve been through in pursuit of my own writing career, I just may scare you away from any artistic vocation.
Then again …
Upon consideration, as honesty is compelling me …
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The bottom line is if you’re not keen on making sacrifices, working your ass off, handling rejection after rejection en route to uncertain success … then listen to your gut. Forget life getting in the way. An artistic career is not for you and I’m doing you a favor.
As for me, over the years I had every reason to quit. I came closest a decade ago when I lost my best friend, my dad, the man who moved our family out of Brooklyn, New York when I was 7 to the fairer climes of Aurora, Colorado to help me get rid of my crippling asthma and offer me a fair chance for a good life.
The man who gave up his own interests to literally allow me to breathe new life into mine.
The man who always said to me I should write for a living.
I was that loved. My mom heartily went along with the plan: the move, the encouragement, and all.
Dad died decades later at 70, and I froze.
I couldn’t write for weeks.
That was one reason for giving up, though I believed then as now I was a good writer. Another reason is I almost lost everything I owned.
Twice. House, important relationships …
Like I said, I’ve been there too. But I could never throw in that towel.
That’s the difference.
Dad would have been furious. So would his first-born (me). Mom too. Maybe my two brothers as well.
So you get frustrated. We all get frustrated.
Flustered too. When we have kids, how the hell are we supposed to make time earning money from our artistic childhood fancies?
You do … or you don’t. That’s the answer.
Personal illness, sick children or parents … We’re all going to die one day and we should make the best with what we have now. If you set out to work full-time in the arts, and yet time passes and you do not find yourself where you want or need to be, and the bills are piling …
If you have the talent pivot. Get a job that guarantees income or is less entrepreneurial, and work on your craft part-time.
Pay attention to the results of your actions. If John Grisham can become one of the world’s bestselling authors by electing to write part-time while attending law school, the power of the pivot may well spell the difference between a successful career, and an unsuccessful one.
If J.K. Rowling can be on welfare and write in cafes on the way to becoming the world’s wealthiest author, she allowed neither her financial distress nor her young daughter to slow her down.
Conversely, both were among her personal inspirations to succeed. The 12 rejections of “Harry Potter” that followed only spurred her further.
If you do not spend time learning from the excessive passage of time or even your chronic failures, it’s not me who will be awake at night regretting your life’s decisions.
Others have channeled their reasons and attained success. We all can do it.
But you certainly need the stomach to continue.
I saw a meme on Facebook once, one I unfortunately was unable to locate for this piece. But it went something like this (paraphrased): If there was no art, there would be no museums. If there was no art, we’d live in a world without books, movies, and music. Can you imagine a world without books, movies or music? There would be no statues in grand squares, no sculpture, no plays or acting. If there was no art, creation would be meaningless. Maybe, even, there would be no God.
Religious or spiritual thoughts on the matter aside, though the above is not a direct quote of said meme, it’s a pretty accurate summation.
Many of us have the ability. Many of us remain passionate about our creative work until … life gets in the way.
Not many of us are fortunate to follow our dreams.
More accurately, not many of us understand how to deal with life’s twists and turns and transform a lifelong dream into professional reality.
What follows is some unsolicited advice as to how to do exactly that.
10 Practical Pointers To Increase Your Odds of Succeeding in an Artistic Career
If you believe you have the talent, or can work to increase or improve your talent …
- Learn the business side of your craft.
- Keep an emergency fund — if you can — as insurance if you run short on cash. More available funds equals less panic when the work and/or cash flow doesn’t happen on a basis that is timely for you.
- Pivot; don’t ever give in.
- Understand you will have numerous reasons to quit, or slow down, but the rewards only come to those who give their artistic passion “one more chance.”
- Network. Meet others who can make a difference in your career.
- Never be afraid to ask for a favor. An honest review of your work, a read of your book, a listen to your new song. If the person you ask says “no,” chances are you will not be scarred for life. Ask someone else if you need to.
- Promote. Learn the art of self-promotion.
- Learn public speaking. Two reasons: 1) Audiences pay good money to listen to artists, and 2) See #7, above. You may want to look into a Toastmasters class to polish up on these skills.
- Stay in physical shape. You’ll need to be sharp moving forward.
- Ego. A necessity for artists as a driver. There is nothing wrong with acknowledging your own talent and tapping into it to keep going. Just straddle the line is all. There are few things more offensive to those who have the ability to hire you than arrogance.
We all have times when we want to give up.
If you must, then go right ahead. You are your own judge. But … only do so if you are truly prepared to leave your dreams behind.
Also, be hard on yourself.
I’m hardest on me than anyone. I will never stop until I win that elusive Pulitzer, or Oscar.
In reference to #10, above, of course. An ego and two dreams I can never leave behind.
Thank you for reading.
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