Being an artist is not the easiest thing in the world. It doesn’t matter if you draw, paint or write, we are all struggling artists at some point in our lives. This excerpt from the book Getting There has some phenomenal advice from “Mad Men” creator Matthew Weiner – a struggling artist who is no longer struggling. Here are the best bits:
Artists frequently hide the steps that lead to their masterpieces. They want their work and their career to be shrouded in the mystery that it all came out at once. It’s called hiding the brushstrokes, and those who do it are doing a disservice to people who admire their work and seek to emulate them. If you don’t get to see the notes, the rewrites, and the steps, it’s easy to look at a finished product and be under the illusion that it just came pouring out of someone’s head like that. People who are young, or still struggling, can get easily discouraged, because they can’t do it like they thought it was done.
This is precisely why I’ve always gravitated toward process posts from artists I admire online. It’s easy to think art is like magic – but it’s not. Art is grit. Art is time. Art is effort.
The most defeatist thing I hear is, “I’m going to give it a couple of years.” You can’t set a clock for yourself. If you do, you are not a writer. You should want it so badly that you don’t have a choice. You have to commit for the long haul. There’s no shame in being a starving artist. Get a day job, but don’t get too good at it. It will take you away from your writing.
Again, so true. There’s no timetable on art. And have you ever been at a meaningless job and just not wanted to get better at it? Now you know why.
The greatest regret I have is that, early in my career, I showed myself such cruelty for not having accomplished anything significant. I spent so much time trying to write, but was paralyzed by how behind I felt. Many years later I realized that if I had written only a couple of pages a day, I would’ve written 500 pages at the end of a year (and that’s not even working weekends). Any contribution you make on a daily basis is fantastic. I still happen to write almost everything at once, but I now cut myself slack on all of the thinking and procrastination time I use. I know that it’s all part of my creative process.
This is gold. I highly recommending reading the whole post over at Fast Company.