Do the work (you have everything you need) – Skinny Artist

Do the work (you have everything you need)

Just Do the Work
 It’s not about having the right tools or gadgets, it’s about putting in the work. Whether you are writing a novel, painting a picture, or trying to capture the perfect photograph.

 We like easy

Let’s face it, we all love our shortcuts and gadgets.

Whether it’s about making our waistlines smaller, our creative work better, or our brains bigger — we are all searching for that next life hack that will make our lives easier.

The problem, however, isn’t about our love affair with technology. The real issue is when these tools (or lack of them) keep us from doing the work that’s necessary.Ab-Rocker

It’s like the Ab Rocker, which is the latest in a long line of overpriced exercise gadget designed to flatten our stomach.

The purpose of this padded recliner machine is to make doing sit-ups easier, which is exactly the problem.

Doing sit-ups is not about easy. It’s about strengthening your ab muscles and the way you do that is by forcing your ab muscles to work harder.

Sure it’s nice to have a comfortably padded neck and back support along with convenient handles to help pull yourself up with, but that’s not really the point.

The point is not to be easy, it’s about getting stronger abs. In other words, it’s about putting in the work.

After all if you want to do a sit-up, you just need to — sit up. You don’t need something to make it easier.

 

As creative artists we fall into this same trap

We are constantly playing the “If only I had…” game.

If only I had a better guitar/amp/microphone to help me create my music
If only I could take a creative writing class and have people criticize the crap out of my writing.
If only I had a bigger canvas, a new set of brushes, or better quality paint
If only I had my own private studio or writing space
If only I could afford a better camera or that really cool new lens

The fact that we don’t have all of these tools we think we need, becomes our excuse for not doing the work. I know because I fall into this technology trap all the time.

This is how you do it: You sit down at the keyboard and you put one word after another until it’s done. It’s that easy, and that hard.
~Neil Gaiman

Every week there is some new revolutionary website plugin, theme, or software program that promises to make things easier and get Google to love you. Just as there are dozens of writing apps that promise to eliminate distractions and allow you write better, faster, and easier than ever before.

The only problem is that in the end, writing is about writing and creating is about creating — the more you do it, the better you get at it.

You can write just as well with a pencil and a cheap spiral-bound notebook as you can with a MacBook Pro. In other words, it’s not about having the right tools or gadgets, it’s simply about doing the work.

This is true whether you are trying to write a novel, play an instrument, paint a picture, or capture the perfect photograph.

 

Creativity is not always exciting

When we first start creating our art, we have all of this excitement and passion for our work.

In the beginning we can’t wait start painting, writing, or taking pictures of everything we see. This is our creative honeymoon period where everything is awesome and each day is a brand new adventure.

Then one day it becomes work.

A deadline comes up, a commission falls through, or a rejection letter shows up in the mail. Suddenly it’s not as much fun anymore — so we decide to go shopping, hoping to recapture the joy of creating.

The answer is not to find (or purchase) a better solution, but to stop looking for one.

Getting bored, getting discouraged, and feeling like you’ll never be good enough is simply part of the game. Unfortunately there is no easy fix and there is nothing you can buy that will make these problems go away. In order to be a successful creative artist, you just have to find a way to work through it and do what you can with the tools you already have.

But don’t wait. Act now. Your time is limited.

 

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About the Author

Writer, teacher, and head custodian of the Skinny Artist community. His book "Getting Creative: Developing Creative Habits that Work" is all about finding the time (and energy) to live a more creative life.

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(9) comments

Yes, the last line says it all, “Act now. Your time is limited.
Never will it be easy, but it is the way that you approach it that makes all the difference. I was discouraged after I got out of college and started sending out hundreds of mailers only to get rejection letters and lackluster interest. So I found myself questioning my style, “maybe I needed a new one,” my medium, “maybe I should try something else,” my process, etc. I spent hours trying out new things, watching videos, looking for an answer. Unfortunately I spent a couple of years doing this until I realized that I just kept going back to what I knew because it was what I loved and that my only real problem was that it was hard, a lot harder than I thought it would be. But I decided that if I was going to do this I needed to keep at it and work through the doubts and the frustration. And while the doubts and the frustration never really goes away I have managed to carve out a career over the years and continue to love drawing and painting despite the blood, sweat, and tears.

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    You’re right Toni and I think most of us go through that stage when we think we can somehow purchase the solution. It doesn’t matter if it’s exercise, blogging, or creativity — it’s never quite as easy as we think it should be. Part of it, I think, is the fact that there are so many “solution sellers” out there promising us the easy fix, but it’s really just a matter of sitting down, doing the hard stuff, and paying your dues. And you’re right that we don’t need a new style or try to follow a prepackaged system, we just need to keep at it. In the end we may discover that the reward was in the journey itself, not the final destination.

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I lost the joy of painting after 15 years. I looked around and could not find one more bit of happiness in what I was doing, so I quit, for three years. I don’t recommend this to everyone but it was the best thing I ever did. I figured out what it was that gave me joy in the beginning and what it was that had creeped in to squish it all. One day it just felt like I needed to get the paints out again, I had something exciting to say, and am doing my best work ever, minus all the things that pulled me down.

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    I’m happy that you were able to eventually find your way back to your art Diane. I think we just have to follow our heart, and if it’s telling us that we need a break for whatever reason, then it’s something to consider. One of the things I’ve noticed about the creative spirit (or at least my own) is that it occasionally goes into hibernation, but sooner or later it always comes back and that need to create returns. I think there is a big difference between this type of creative sabbatical and putting off our work because we simply don’t feel like doing it that day. I’m glad to hear you have been able to rediscover the joy in your art again and wish you all the best.

    Reply

[…] Do the Work (you have everything you need) | Skinny Artist – It’s not about having the right tools or gadgets, it’s about putting in the work. Whether you are writing a novel, painting a picture, or trying to capture the …… […]

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Excuses, procrastination, mood swings the name of the game for me! Yesterday I was on top of it all and feeling I knew where I wanted to take my art and most importantly I knew I could take it there. Now today I am glum and things do not seem so clear cut; these ups and downs are the nature of the creative’s soul; it is what makes us tick. Perhaps we need the doubts and excuses for reflection self critiques etc.. to be able to move on – best ashar

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    Sadly, I think these things are the name of the game for most of us. I think you’re right Ashar that maybe these type of mood swings are simply the ebb and flow of the creative process. One day we think we’re finally on the right track, and the next dat we find ourselves second-guessing everything that we’ve done. At least after experiencing this emotional roller coaster over and over, I realize that this too shall pass, and tomorrow will inevitably bring more emotions that I probably won’t understand. Such is the creative life :)

    Reply

Great post! The ebb and flow of life is the same with our passions. Some days we will experience peaks and some days valleys. Looking back to see the failures and uncertainties we have all experienced makes the successes all the more sweet. Learning to work through the tough times is important. It makes us stronger and pushes us to excel through the good times. Drew, you summed it up well by pointing out that we only have so much time…make it all count.

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    You’re right Kurt that it’s hard sometimes to take a step back and get a view of the bigger picture and not get caught up in the short-term setbacks. Finding a way to somehow push through and keep going when things fall apart is not always easy to do, but it’s absolutely essential if we are going to survive long-term as a creative artist.

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