You and I just need to create. There’s no option, no maybe, no negotiations.
We need to express all those ideas jostling for attention within us, burning to get out and become our masterpieces.
The urge then, is undisputed. We’re artists, we need to make art, in whatever forms that takes.
The reasons why we create, however, are a different matter.
Put simply, we need to create what we need to create, in the way we need to create it.
If we start to get caught up in the wishes and hopes and stories and expectations of others, it only ever leads down one route. And it’s not the route we need to take for ourselves. It’s not the route that leads to a fulfilled and happy artist.
For example, if the main reason you paint is because your mother was a very renowned and highly regarded painter, and your family expect you to follow her footsteps – or rather her brushstrokes – then this probably isn’t the best motivation to paint yourself.
Especially if you don’t particularly enjoy painting anyway, let alone painting with the constant burden of expectation hanging over you to be just like your mother.
We need to shun the shoulds, and embrace the because.
We need to take a close look at the motivations why we’re creating what we’re creating. If it contains the words “should” – especially a sentence like “my parents/teachers/children/friends/peers said I should” – then listen to those alarm bells sounding.
Worse than creating in a way that someone else says you should, is to create what you think someone else thinks you should.
Adding this extra layer – this additional step removed – adds even more confusion and takes you further from your true creative needs.
What if, for years you’ve been creating the type of art, in the type of style that you thought your college art teacher wanted, only to find years later it wasn’t what they wanted for you at all? What a waste!
To avoid creating what we only assume others want us to create, is simple. Just follow your own instinct, your own happiness in creating.
Follow your “heart work”.
If you enjoy creating in a certain medium but not another, it’s a pretty good measure of which one to spend more time on.
Yes, sometimes your work will stretch and be challenging, all part of your continued evolution as an artist. But there has to be the enjoyment there, or why create at all?
Take a moment to think about the creative projects you’ve been working on in the last year or so.
How many of them are your “heart work”? Projects that your heart has drawn you to and is fully engaged and invested in? Projects you create just because you know you need to, not because someone else says you should do.
These are the keepers and the ones that are a good sign of where you future work lies.
How many are “duty work”? Projects that you only did because you felt an obligation to, based on your estimation of someone else’s expectations?
These are the ones to be wary of, the ones that can never fufil you anywhere near as much as your heart work.
And if your not creating your heart work, is it worth creating any work at all?
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