“Art is never finished, only abandoned.”
― Leonardo da Vinci
Most creatives have no problem with coming up with ideas. We enjoy the process of brainstorming, thinking ‘what if’, and dreaming of possibilities.
Making those possibilities a reality, however, is a different story.
Sometimes, instead of being productive creators, we can become professional procrastinators. There’s a big difference between coming up with amazing ideas, and actually making them happen. Here’s what happens when we focus more on thinking of ideas rather than on finishing them.
First of all, we can become overwhelmed by the size of the task. At this stage, some of us decide the big idea is not worth the energy and discipline it will take. We keep our ideas inside a box of ‘only if it’s realistic.’ Which of course, guarantees that we’ll never push a big idea forward.
Remember when you were a child at the dinner table?
If you had a mother, grandmother or aunt who was old-school, you likely heard these words when you were trying to avoid eating your vegetables – “Finish what’s on your plate.”
In their eyes, not eating your entire meal meant you weren’t getting all the nutrition you needed. It was their way of ensuring we would continue to be healthy and happy.
Fast forward into our adult lives, and someone who’s busy will often say, “There’s a lot on my plate.”
That’s probably true about you. Ideas, projects, family and work responsibilities, marketing and branding yourself, planning for the future – it feels like there’s no way you can finish it all. Your plate is full and your first impulse to push it away and run from the table.
But some items on your plate must be finished no matter what – the vegetables of the creative life, you might call them. Dedicating time to connect with God daily. Being a good spouse, family member and friend. Doing your best creative work.
Here’s the catch – when we were small, our parents and guardians fixed our plates for us. Now, we determine what’s on the menu.
“A paycheck is the bribe they give you to give up on your dreams.”
This phrase has been circulating in social media circles recently, and the implication is clear. According to this mindset, those that work for a traditional company with a salary are less likely to explore other options, like being self-employed or attempting to do something more rewarding with their lives.
But is this a true assumption?
Do people who maintain a traditional job sacrifice their dreams simply by being employed?
People who have a talent for growing plants are said to have a ‘green thumb’. If so, my thumbs are the total opposite of green, whatever that is.
Anything I try to grow is doomed to a early demise. I remember with embarrassment when we bought Chia pets for our children, and even those tiny ceramic heads, which only require a little sprinkle of water and sunlight, failed to produce any greenery for our kitchen.
Clearly God was gracious in not making me a farmer.
This is why I’m amazed when I look at at the fresh fruits and vegetables in the produce section of grocery stores. The process of cultivating seeds to maturity, harvesting the crops, and eventually getting that produce to my plate takes a lot more work than I’ll ever comprehend.
As creatives, we cultivate seeds as well, but in a different form. Our ideas, creative impulses, and visions are much bigger than the Chia pet variety. These seeds have the potential to give millions of people inspiration, encouragement and happiness. But if we see ourselves as ‘brown thumb’ creatives, we’ll never hang on until the harvest comes.
You may have had brown thumb thoughts as you’ve endured seasons where your creative seeds seem dormant. You may have become discouraged, decided that your ideas will never grow, and let the weeds of doubt overtake your artistic field.
Don’t let those negative ideas choke the life out of your creativity.
Keep planting. Keep watering. Keep putting your dreams in the sunlight where they have a chance to flourish. It’s the only way to see your way to creative success.
You never know which seed will be the one that will feed a generation.
Share your thoughts: How do you avoid getting discouraged when your creative projects seem to be going nowhere? Share your comments below.
We pursue them.
We spend lots of time planning for them.
We work hard to make them happy.
They sometimes love us and sometimes don’t. They are our biggest supporters or our toughest critics. They might watch us intently, or they might totally ignore us.
These statements might apply to our family members or spouses. But in this case, we’re talking about artists and our audiences.
While some musicians might enjoy playing in solitude, there’s no substitute for the affirmation that comes from the applause and attention of an audience. Their support is the backbone of our success. Without people in the seats, there’s very little chance of sustaining a career.
However, we also have to acknowledge that audiences can be fickle. What one crowd loves may be totally rejected by another. That’s not a good feeling for any performer. Some of us respond by changing our style solely for the purpose of getting the audience’s approval. If we aren’t careful, we can become addicted to applause.
The answer to this addiction? Be yourself.
It’s perfectly normal to adjust your performance for your audience. Performing for a group of people is a privilege and we should do our best to meet their expectations.
However, seasoned artists know that every performance won’t be enjoyed by everybody, and they don’t get discouraged when their music falls on deaf ears. Neither do they constantly change their artistic vision to appease the masses. A true artist knows that if they are dedicated to excellence in their craft, the people who appreciate their work will eventually find them.
Applause sounds best when it’s in response to authenticity.