Whenever I'm strolling through an art show or immersed in the work of a debut novelist, I can't help but wonder, "How do so many people find time to create?"
Life isn't structured to allow time to follow one's muse. Whether you want to act on the stage or dip your hands into clay or scribble down your latest story idea, the tedium of everyday chores bogs you down. Family members conspire to take the weekend away. Employers gobble up far too many hours.
Somehow, artists continue to produce. In snatches on the lunch hour, late on Sunday night--artists make fire. And thank the heavens they do: the world would be a cold place without them.
I don't know if any young writers will ever stumble across my blog. In the off chance that, one day, they will, here are a few pointers from a seasoned artist on how to complete that beloved work you've been hiding from family and friends:
1. Turn Off Your Internal Editor. If you're sitting down late at night after slogging through the 9 to 5, forget about perfection. It's more important to get the first draft down on paper--the entire draft. Whether you're writing a short story or a novel, you can't reasonably edit until you've made a complete pass through your story idea.
2. Find Your Tribe. Your boyfriend won't understand why you're desperate to write. Your parents may subtly question why so many years of education are "wasted" pursuing nebulous dreams. Ignore them. Find other artists who are struggling to produce. They'll offer useful feedback as well as sympathy when the going gets tough.
3. Don't Rush into the Marketplace. Take time to polish your work. If you haven't yet joined a critique group ... do. The competition for a readership has always been tough. To survive--and grow a readership--you need to present your very best work to the world.
4. Let Your Elders Inspire You. Precious few artists make it overnight. Most spend years balancing on the high wire, trying to earn a living while finding the energy to follow a heart's desire. Personally, I've always been inspired by comedian Billy Crystal. One of his finest quotes? "It took me twenty years to become an overnight sensation."
Here's hoping you get there a whole lot sooner.