Chapter One: Becoming an Artist
The first myth Jeff Goins tackles is "The Starving Artist believes you must be born an artist. The Thriving Artist knows you must become one."
Being an artist is a process of continually becoming one, yes. Sometimes I think that we need to say we practice art, like a doctor practices medicine or a lawyer practices law. It's all practice - applying what we know to the best of our ability, but the scope is too great to presume we ever master it.
And here's an awesome concept: "At any point in your story, you are free to reimagine the narrative you are living.... adopting an entirely new identity - or a very old one."
(Somewhat modified quote there, note the 4 dot ellipsis indicating the abridgment of the original passage)
That idea is worth sitting with for a bit. If you could be anyone in the world you wanted to be, without changing your external circumstances, who would you be? Who would you enjoy being? What sort of person has a shot at climbing out of circumstances like yours (because I know some joker is thinking, oh, I'd love to be the sort of person who's already having a great life, thanks!)?
For me, I'm wondering if I'm adhering to rules and norms that aren't good for me. Maybe guidelines I've outgrown or warnings that are useful for a completely different personality than mine, or tips for communicating to people that aren't really in the audience I want to speak to.
Right here in chapter one, I found enough reason and inspiration and a kick off the couch to restart this blog. I've been poking around with rough drafts and groaning about it for weeks. Yeah, I know I need to write the blog, it's not like I can't write... but I can't make it perfect, and amazing, and relatable, and nobody reads the thing anyway... I know what I need now is consistency, let me get a whole bunch of perfect, timely posts written ahead of time... Well that one's too late to post now...
And on and on it went.
So instead of putting off writing this blog forever because I'm so scared of it not being perfect, I'm just writing the thing. If I could be any sort of person in the world, I'd be the sort of person who is free to ditch things that don't work, but who doesn't look down on the things that do. Freaking out about perfection doesn't get the job done. Posting what's on my mind without first agonizing over whether my social filter was in place when I wrote it - I don't know yet if that works or not, I haven't tried it long.
Useful Questions from This Chapter
I think that the best way to become an artist is to start with who you already are and work from there to who you are supposed to be. Along the way, you'll create. You'll practice art. And while you're practicing, you'll be becoming.
So who are you? What rules are you following? At this point, are they helping you or hurting you? What "can't" you do that you actually need to be doing? Who are you really supposed to be?
Something really fun here is that at the same time as I was reading Real Artists Don't Starve, I was also reading Overcome by Clayton King and The Road Back to You by Ian Morgan Cron. These were good to have on hand for this chapter. Also, for us introverts, might I also recommend Susan Cain's Quiet.
If you're interested in buying any of those books, I'd greatly appreciate it if you used my links! I'm just now experimenting with the Amazon Affiliate thing and I'd get a few cents commission if you do. The great thing about the program is that they have so much to choose from, I don't feel any pressure to promote anything I can't get behind 100%.
I will be giving away a copy of Real Artists Don't Starve to one lucky commenter on this blog! Please leave a comment on any post in this series about the book if you want your name in the hat. There may even be a literal hat involved. I'll see if I have a nice steampunk top hat left around anywhere. I will announce the winner here and in the newsletter, so you might want to think about signing up for that too, especially if you have any interest in webcomics, cosplay, and comic cons.
Artist, writer, creator of stuff. I just want to build worlds for you to escape to.