All through school you were told to “work on your craft.” In order to succeed as an artist it not only was your priority but required single pointed focus and discipline. Good advice, right?
When you solely work on your craft ahead of everything and everyone, including yourself, you actually aren’t a better creative artist. It even perpetuates the outdated ‘poor, struggling, tortured artist’ narrative and puts the outcome before the process.
In order to achieve you are supposedly required to be 100% dedicated to your discipline. You are even made to feel guilty when you take a vacation or put family ahead of your art. This is B.S.
In this kind of thinking you have spent absolutely no time learning about the self. And if you want to reflect society, make a difference in the world, and evoke change - which is the job of the creative artist - you have to know yourself. We are, after all, microcosms of the great macrocosm. As the great poet Rumi stated, “You are not a drop in the ocean. You are the entire ocean in a drop.” If you know nothing of your inner world and the greater picture, how can you be a successful, lucrative creative artist? You can’t. Let me repeat that. YOU CAN’T.
So while learning to tap dance, play the concerto, or master an amazing brush stroke is important, albeit vital to your success, you also must spend an equal amount of time in examination and reflection.
Stop signing up for the casting director class , the next big writing workshop, or the film editing course, when you already know how!
In order to maintain a fulfilling and successful long term career and contented life you must work on yourself first and then your art. (mic drop)
Here’s what you can do that doesn’t take up a ton of time, but can make an important and impactful difference:
1. Quiet your mind. Meditate, practice breath work, write long free form flow pages
2. Play! Create for the sake of creating, not for its outcome!
3. Take care of your body. Learn about nutrition. Cook and eat whole healthy foods.
4. Get a dang hobby. Practice yoga, swim, play golf… Enjoy life!
Basically, create a daily self-care practice that feels intuitively right to you. If you don’t know how seek advice and counsel. It will enhance your art and your life. And that, my friends, is what I call working on your craft.