The problem with my art right now is it doesn’t seem to be going anywhere; creativity is challenging. I thought it because of the low level of my commitment, which is partly true. I’m unclear about my vision, goals or how to get there—another task to work on.
But also I don’t seem to have the discipline, the organisation to make it happen. This can lead to low motivation too.
One illusion I had about art and artists was thinking it’s all about spontaneity, a tired cliche, or stereotype about the ill-disciplined artist. They work when they have that flash on inspiration.
It’s the Creative Freestyle myth; going with impulse is what makes a good, successful artist. That might be okay for an amateur artist, who creates as a hobby.
But for those who are more serious about art and want to earn a living, creativity has to be taken more seriously too. It’s way too idealistic to think artists create through a carefree attitude towards their work.
Freestyling art has its allure, but art it’s not about following a plan all the time but letting creativity flow out: inspiration dripping from our pens and brushes.
Because of this myth, I was set against using a system; I thought it would be like a straight jacket that stifles my artistic and creative side.
My error was to try and wing it. To hope creativity would turn up, by following my muse, my feelings.
However, you can’t make inspiration happen, but you can create conditions for it to happen, and that’s where discipline and system come in.
Art is a system; it still needs some order to make it happen consistently. Creating, promoting, selling, talking.
A lot of art is a set of repetitive actions, just like any other job. A good practice is to make that a system which helps you have time for the more nebulous creativity side that can’t be forced or systemised.
Creativity can’t be just about impulse, feeling and chaos. That depends far too much on chance, feeling and luck.
Woody Allen said creativity is mostly about turning up, getting out those paints and brushes, sitting down to write. You turn up to a regular, even if you don’t feel inspired, but you still arrive and work gets done.
Inspiration will arrive because you’ve created a box to hold it.
For me, I’m looking again at Cal Newport’s idea of Deep Work, and Time Blocking. I see it as a better system compared what I was using these past years. Which was like most people, more a todo list.
I have to organise my time a little more, and better. Set more goals/deadlines, have challenges, set aside time to do important and deep work. Have a plan, revise the in plan in the face of change, and stick with the idea of living with intention, and direction.
I need to feel on top of the situation, not swamped by it. That’s what having a system can do for us.
If like me you want some kind of sustainable success in creating, promoting and selling work then it can’t just be art when you feel like it.
Art works best by remembering it’s a business, and treating your work, your calling just like any business with its systems, procedures, you know ‘organisation’.
Your creativity deserves the respect, and you honour it by providing with attention, energy, time and discipline that gives it space to operate.
Art requires a system if it’s to work long term, otherwise is descends into pandemonium, that’s what will make it more stressful than it needs to be, less effective and ultimately leads to failure.
Building a adapting a system has to be one of the more important acts of creativity an artist must do if they are serious about their work. The good thing is there is a lot of advice and ideas out there you can draw from.