“There’s a job…there’s a gig here” Billy Joel
It’s probably one of the hardest things about a career path that’s already not the easiest choice. If you do any other kind of work and let’s say you’ve just started and you’re not making that much coin people still respect it because it’s still considered “real work”. In the arts though it’s seen strangely as not being given the same accolade unless you are one of us fortunate enough to have a creative field as their primary source of income. But the trap here I think is that we run the risk of treating it like a pipe dream or a hobby. Having a hobby is fine but for those of us who think of ourselves as artists we have to give our craft that same attention as any other tradesman who puts in forty hours a week. Will this immediately pay off? This I can’t say but there is certainly a pride in putting serious determination behind what you do and one thing I have found is that you never know where your creative road will take you, but the more work you do on your craft, the better armed to fight you will be when you get there.
Our role is different from some trades as just hammering the same thing again and again can work against us so being creative you have to find ways of still focusing on your craft without making yourself bored (creative death here!) As a writer I like to play with different forms or ideas like this or my other blogs, narrative experiments, prose, non-fiction, or a thing I sometimes do called morning stories. In this one I do a thousand words (usually ends up being more) of something. In the same way as a Artist Way morning page you just go with what pops in your head and roll or riff on that. Writers probably have it the worst for practicing because there’s the natural assumption that everyone can write so it’s easy to get complacent. The great thing about it is the portability though and I have so many of those little Hilroy 300 page books just full of material and even a little mini one that fits in my coat. And just like a musician who listens and transcribes what they hear the more well read you are, naturally, the better. Check out some of the books on writers and writing as well. Try a new form like creative non fiction or poetry. Poetry is not to be sniffed at as people think of folks in berets musing on the moon. Taken to its highest level poems are the writing equivalent of making every shot count. This fine art, and the origin of all writing in western civilization, is all about specific details and sense and particularity. Trying to write in a non ambiguous way and connect with people at gut level is genius. That’s one thing I found with well crafted (and you’ll laugh) country music. You can’t be ambiguous in that form. It’s from the hip and for a musician it’s usually written in a bright major key which makes it just that much harder to emote in a way that connects with listeners. And that’s why some of that style can hurt.
Don’t shoot the country pianist. He’s doing his best.
A good idea is to set up your work at a time when you know you are at your most alert and won’t be too distracted. Set that as a daily habit that you don’t intend to break even if the building is burning down around you. Ignore the fireman. You’re working.
So pour yourself a coffee, punch the clock and rock.
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