It’s funny how the life of an artist is romanticized in popular culture. How many times have you heard someone say they want to move to the South of France, live in a château, and make paintings all day while drinking all day?
If only life were that easy.
Here’s the truth though: when it comes to making art, the struggle is real. Any artist will tell you that the process is grueling. When you watch an incredible movie, or look at a breathtaking photograph or painting, or read a poignant piece of writing, you’re looking at the results, not the process. The results don’t even tell you half the story.
Listen to Gustave Flaubert, an influential French writer in the 19th century, talk about the perils of his creative process:
“Sometimes, when I am empty, when words don’t come, when I find I haven’t written a single sentence after scribbling whole pages, I collapse on my couch and lie there dazed, bogged down in a swamp of despair, hating myself and blaming myself for this demented pride that makes me pant after a chimera. A quarter of an hour later, everything has changed; my heart is pounding with joy.”
The fact is, it’s easy to feel discouraged. Making art is often a numbers game, where, if you’re lucky, you produce one solid piece of work for every ten that you absolutely despise. The internet plays a dual-role in this process. While it’s never been easier to share your work and draw inspiration from others, it’s just as easy to view the work of great artists and realize just how big the disparity is between where you are now and where you want to be.
I made a short video talking a little bit about the artistic struggle and what you need to do to overcome it. I hope it gives you a little inspiration. Check it out:
Thanks for watching, and remember: Keep making your art, we’re relying on you.
P.S. If you like reading about the creative process of different artists, you need to check out the book Daily Rituals: How Artists Work. Somehow reading about the agony other artists in history have gone through makes it a little easier whenever you’re going through the struggle yourself ;-).