Editor’s note: this is a guest post by Amanda Berlin of The Thrivivalist.
There is so much faith involved in creating art. You pour your heart into something with little promise of considerable financial remuneration. That’s what they tell you. Maybe that’s what you tell yourself. It’s a hobby. You’d never be able to actually make a living by way of your art. And maybe you don’t even want it that way. Being under financial pressure to create could spoil things entirely. Whatever your hope for where your art will end up, you create. You know you were born with something to say. Everyone is. And you practice your art because yours is a voice that needs to be heard. You’re not going to let your ideas die within you. And maybe that’s the reason you keep going. But regardless of why we do what we do, as artists, there’s no reason that we should struggle because of our art.
But toil we do. When you’re creating, there’s no one to act as a buffer between the artist and the critic. I went to hear David Sedaris read a few years ago and he said something like this: working as a writer is like working in a job where you never get to leave the office and you never get away from your nagging, critical, abusive boss. Yes!, I thought, Yes!
We can make a conscience effort to silence our internal editor and get into the flow of creating our art. But, we all know how persistent that task-master can be. And how demanding she or he is of perfection. All this is to illustrate the challenges we face when we’re committed to producing something that reflects our most deeply felt expressions.
Whether you’re a writer, a performer, a painter or a sculptor, you may identify when I say that I suffer for my art. But I am also saying I am done with that. As I embark on the most-recent (I have lost count at this point) draft of my latest novel, I am committed to doing my writing work with joy.
Because there is no promise of pay-off – there never is; nothing is ever guaranteed – I might as well enjoy the editing and writing journey on which I am embarking. Because writing is a solitary pursuit, I might as well be my own best cheerleader. Because someone will end up reading my work at some point, and I want that person to fall head-over-heels in love with it, I might as well infuse every word with love, enthusiasm, belief and joy.
So here’s how I’m trying to do that.
The typical nonsensical, untrue, defeatist thoughts about my lack of skill, lack of imagination, lack of ability to say something exactly the way I want it to sound, are now declared ILLEGAL THOUGHTS!
All ILLEGAL THOUGHTS will henceforth be replaced with gentle, encouraging, enthusiastic, cheerful thoughts about writing, my ability and my proficiency in finding the exact right way to say the exact thing that needs to be said.
Finally, I commit to remind myself regularly that there is no failure. I only fail when I stop trying.
About Amanda Berlin
I am writer and fitness/wellness instructor in New York City. I am an IntenSati leader, a practice that pairs a cardio workout with spoken positive affirmations. I founded the The Thrivivalist in the Spring of 2010 to offer tips and honor and support our efforts to thrive, instead of just surviving. A thrivivalist is someone who honors his or her experience, lives with integrity, and pursues any means by which she can help others and live a life he or she loves. My work has been published on Forbes.com, Teen Identity Magazine, and VolunTourism.org. I am also a marketing and publicity writer.
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