Finding your inner artist, day 26: About not constantly trying too hard

Today’s quote:

Now and then it’s good to pause in our pursuit of happiness and just be happy. ~ Guillaume Apollinaire

Guillaume Apollinaire

Guillaume Apollinaire (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Self-help manuals, teaching manuals, all sorts of manuals…

It seems we are all constantly trying to better ourselves, or better our art. There’s nothing intrinsically wrong with that.

Sometimes, it’s a good idea however to stop following prescriptions and just do, because there are a lot of things you cannot learn from books and manuals. And with this, I will leave you…

© Petra Raspel 2013

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Finding your inner artist, day 25: About criticising others

Today’s quote:

If you have time to judge other people, you have way too much time on your hands. Get off your ass and do something meaningful. ~ Shane Gibson

This is a follow-on to yesterday’s post:

Critique is important. It helps us to grow, and it is part of the learning process. However, it should always be constructive. It also needs to serve a purpose. I sometimes cannot help but wonder where the purpose is if I look around (social) media and the Internet:

Artists criticise other artists, musicians criticise other musicians. Often, the person in question is not really addressed; the critique is just thrown out there – to whom exactly? We are all guilty of this occasionally, but some people really don’t seem to do anything else. There are even some who are so fixated on criticising one particular artist/singer/insert-term-of-choice that you really start to wonder if there is an element of either jealousy or trying to make themselves look better involved (which ultimately just makes them look bad).

Let’s not waste our time on petty things like that. It’s better to spend that time on furthering our own artistic careers. Apart from that, it is spending time with negativity. It really helps no one. The old saying holds some water:

If you can’t say anything nice, don’t say anything at all.

This doesn’t mean you shouldn’t criticise. Think about whom, why and what you are criticising however, and whether your critique helps other people to grow, or if you just do it to make yourself feel better…

© Petra Raspel 2013

Finding your inner artist, day 23: About being independent

Today’s quote:

If it adapts itself to what the majority of our society wants, art will be a meaningless recreation. ~ Albert Camus

Albert Camus

Albert Camus (Photo credit: Mitmensch0812)

Now, this is a tricky one – don’t we all need to make a living?

It is very easy to fall into the trap of creating what the audience wants, in an attempt to get a sale. We probably all read magazines, watch features on TV, have a look at the Internet to find out the flavour of the month – to see what other people do, to find out what sells…

The problem with this approach is that you won’t be the one who is in control of your art. Ask yourself if that’s what you really want. And because this is such an important question, I will actually give you a second quote today:

Great things are not accomplished by those who yield to trends and fads and popular opinion. ~ Jack Kerouac

© Petra Raspel 2013

Finding your inner artist, day 22: About wasting too much time

Today’s quote:

How we spend our days is how we spend our lives. What we do with this hour and with that one, is what we are doing. ~ Annie Dillard

One of the main culprits that holds many artists back (in my opinion) is the lack of a structured day.

We don’t have “office hours” as such (stupid question: Why?). We often work when we feel like it, and we often don’t when we don’t.

If I discovered one thing over the years it’s that successful artists have structured days. They don’t waste time with watching TV when they could be working on their art and their business. They know their biorhythm pretty well, and they don’t necessarily work against it: If they know they are most creative in the late evening, nothing prevents them from sleeping until noon and working into the small hours. You can work the back- or night-shift, that’s not the point.

It is a very common thing for many artists I know however to postpone work on both their art and their business when something else (more enjoyable) comes up. Oh, the best friend just popped round for a coffee, work can wait. Oh, the weather is so nice, I take the day off. Oh, I’d rather watch a movie just now, sod it…

I am not saying that we shouldn’t grant ourselves time off, and I am also not saying that spontaneity doesn’t go a long way, especially in the creative business.

If you constantly spend your days idling, waiting for inspiration to strike or others to discover you, something isn’t right however. So the next time you find yourself browsing Facebook instead of working the hours you put in your diary, remember Dillard’s quote: It’s what you’re doing.

How you spend your day is how you spend your life…

© Petra Raspel 2013

Finding your inner artist, day 18: About looking into the future

Today’s quote:

Finish each day and be done with it. You have done what you could. (…) Tomorrow is a new day; you shall begin it serenely and with too high a spirit to be encumbered with your old nonsense. ~ Ralph Waldo Emerson

Ralph Walso Emerson

Ralph Walso Emerson (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

People often ask me about the difference between personal coaching and counselling.

Coaches help their clients “to take stock”/evaluate the present, to then set and achieve goals. This means looking into the future. We might brush on problems that have arisen in the past to understand why the client is holding on to certain beliefs, but ultimately, we let the past be the past, and the client has to leave it behind as well. If we suspect deeper problems that need addressing, we will suggest the client sees a counsellor, psychologist or psychotherapist. This is why our training also includes a fair amount of psychology, because obviously, we need to be able to spot these problems.

Artists need to allow themselves to be vulnerable, and often reach into the past for this (not all find this necessary, but a fair amount do). We need a different approach however when it comes to organising our daily lives and having a look at the business side of things. This is when past failures that are still too present in our minds can become a real stumbling block. You can learn from them, but ultimately, you need to let them go.

You set your goals, and you go for them with full commitment. That’s looking ahead, not back…

© Petra Raspel 2013