From Theorist To Artist: Why You Need A Lot Less “How To” And More “Just Do”

image: dancoachcreative

How many more articles do you think you need to read about various types of creative block before you’re ready to actually get down to creating?

Maybe, another 10 on procrastination, a handful on perfectionism, a couple on finding more time, and one each on getting focused and finding your voice?

Would you then be ready to create?

Or maybe you should read another half dozen on giving yourself permission, three or four on overcoming the negative talk of your inner critic, and another two on organising your creative space?

Would you be ready then?

Even if you did read all these articles, and even ten times as many, you wouldn’t actually be in a very different place to where you are now, if you didn’t do one simple thing.


We can abosorb all the knowledge of the great thinkers and teachers of creativity, and the artists themselves, from dawn until dusk, every day for the rest of our lives. We’d certainly amount a mass of knowledge and become a virtual walking encyclopedia of creativity techniques.

But again, if we just sit there letting the theory sink in and don’t ever act upon it, what good does it do us?

Do you want to be a big fat book on legs, or an active, inspired artist?

The truth is, you need far less “How To” and a great deal more “Just Do”.

The idea that there is some secret key out there that once you find it will magically unlock your creativity and you’ll flow with artistic abundance happily ever after is just a myth.

There’s no single one-size-suits-all approach and method that’s going to work for everyone.

The only way you’re going to even start to realise the potential of your inner creativity – the only way you’re going to be able to give life to all those wonderful ideas simmering away inside you – is to show up regularly in the best way you know how and give them the opportunity to be heard.

The plan is simple. Show up, create, experiment, explore.

Give all you can, lose yourself, immerse yourself.

Make a mess, mould a masterpiece, learn about the subtle details, delicious quirks and intricate rhythms of the artist within you.

Then, tomorrow, show up and do the same again.

Cultivating a regular daily practice of actually showing up and creating is the only way you will ever progress your talents, your ideas and you ambitions in creating.

Do you want to be just a theorist for the rest of your life, studying the creativity of others and all the possible techniques and approaches that you think might just work for you?

Or do you actually want to make stuff? Do you actually want to give form to your ideas and produce artwork you’re proud of, artwork that inspires others to create too?

Stop looking for the perfect tools, materials, approaches and theories.

You already have them within you, all the knowledge you need.

What’s lacking is not more information. What’s lacking is simply the application of what you know and what you have.

Put your career as an art theorist on hold. Lose the theory part and become simply an artist.

Show up, create, experiment, explore, learn, repeat. Become the artist that’s already in you.

Give us all a chance to see the wonders within you.

It’s what you’re here for.


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14 thoughts on “From Theorist To Artist: Why You Need A Lot Less “How To” And More “Just Do””

  1. Amazing. Powerful. Just what I needed to read this morning to give me the needed boost to keep me on my creative track.

    These words sum it all up for me. I should tape them to my studio wall!

    “Show up, create, experiment, explore, learn, repeat. Become the artist that’s already in you.
    Give us all a chance to see the wonders within you.
    It’s what you’re here for.”

    Thanks! – Tom


    1. Thanks Tom, really pleased it’s inspired you. We can only get to the core of our creativity by getting our hands messy and creating, not just reading about creating.


  2. There’s a bit of irony here in that I’m reading an article on creativity that’s telling me to stop reading articles on creativity and get to work! But you make a wonderful point. With all the information out there, it’s very easy to get sucked in to reading a lot and doing very little.

    But I think blogs like yours (and mine, of course) are important supports to people engaged in creative work. Maybe the way to go is to browse around until you find just a few people who write articles that inspire you to *action* (like this one) and then only read those few, so it’s an occasional thing rather than a regular replacement activity for your creative work. 🙂


    1. Sue, I’m glad the irony wasn’t lost. 🙂

      I agree that some blogs, books and so on are incredibly inspiring and motivating. There are a small handful of blogs I follow and read pretty much every post of. In combination with doing the work itself, they can be a potent combination for us as artists. The problem is when the balance falls right over towards the theory side and it’s all reading and no creating.

      Thanks for your input and thoughts.


  3. Yes, there is so much repetitive stuff out there. But some people enjoy watching reruns on television also. Reading/hearing the same thing over and over surely serves a purpose for some people.


    1. I think sometimes we have such negative tapes in our minds, from past experiences, that yes absolutely we need to reprogram them over and over with more positive and encouraging thoughts, which we can find in the work and words of others. It’s finding the combination you need of research and encouragement versus getting down to creating. Sort of like going off into the fields each day to do the work, then returning home to share with your family and friends each evening.

      Plus, while obviously something like piano lessons for example are essential if you want to become a great piano player, the practice and experimentation between the lessons is even more vital..


  4. If I didn’t keep myself in check, I’d be reading books, blogs and tweets about writing all day and I’d never write a word. My solution : I’m not allowed to stock up on theory unless I’ve written at least my 750 words for the day.

    It took me a while to realise that just because a certain way of doing things works for one writer that doesn’t mean it will work for me, too. Only by actually trying different approaches did I develop my own way. If you never apply your knowledge, how will you know what kind of writer/painter/photographer etc. you are?


    1. Very wise words Sonya, thanks for your thoughts.

      Having a consistent creative habit to start the day like your 750 words is so powerful. Even if you don’t write another word that day, you’ve already notched up some great work.

      Love your last point too – they only way we can find out who we are and what we’re capable of is to keeping showing up and doing the work. No short cuts, just one wonderful, lifelong ambling trail…


    1. Jessica, great summation of the two crucial points here. You’ve said in a sentence what it took me about 600 words to say. 🙂

      Thanks for reading, and adding your thoughts.


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