Dear Struggling Artist – Some Words of Encouragement
Dear Struggling Artist,
You write of your anxiety, your fears, your uncertainty about your calling. Wondering if the artistic life is even right for you, or realistic, or doomed to be one of constant struggle. You ask if it’s worth it, if you should heed the advice of all those who “love” you and just get a normal job, with normal pay, “job security” – as they call it.
You wonder if you can do this thing. If you’ve done it once, or twice, or ten times, you wonder if you can do it again. Whether you’re good enough (what is enough, anyway?) and if you’ll have what it takes. You want to know if you can count on this life to sustain you and worry that there’s just too little chance of “making it” or “losing it.” And so your heart beats a little faster with fear. You lie awake at night worrying about making ends meet, distrusting yourself. You see everyone elses’ work and theirs all looks so much better, younger, in vogue, desirable. You look at what you haven’t accomplished, your unfinished drafts, the auditions you couldn’t bring yourself to do, the ones you lost, the successes you’ve had, the next great big vision that seems so very far from reach or reality (which is it?) – and you wonder if it’s worth it.
Shouldn’t it get easier the longer you practice your craft? Shouldn’t you be in a better place by now? Shouldn’t you be beyond lying in bed worrying about the same damn things?
No. You shouldn’t. And you know why?
Because you’re human. Because the artistic life is a journey and the cold hard truth is you never “arrive.”
All the success in your field will never equate to security. It’s the nature of life – expansion. It’s the nature of art.
There is no top of the mountain. You. just. keep. climbing.
So, in response, dear struggling artist, I would tell you: keep going. Pause and breathe when you must, but don’t stop. Keep climbing. Keep going back to the keyboard, the audition, the next script, the next possibility. Keep letting yourself dream. Keep believing. Keep trusting that the Universe hasn’t brought you this far just to drop you now.
Because it hasn’t. You’re here, right where you are, no matter where you are – beginning, middle, end of a career- for a reason. You’re exactly where you are “meant” to be.
So breathe. Relax. Trust. You’re called to be an artist. To live this life as a creator. Don’t get to the end of your life wishing you’d taken more chances, believed in yourself more, changed your thoughts about what is possible.
Keep climbing. You’re worth it.
Posted on Sunday, in Inspiration, Internal, Motivation, Obstacles. Bookmark the permalink. 25 Comments.
Hi, i’m a 26 year old musician, just wanted to say thanks for the great article, just what I needed to hear right now.
Thank you, Martin! Glad it resonated with you. Keep walking toward your dream. Happy New Year!!
Thank you so much for this! Just what I needed! It’s been a tough few weeks and its so hard to say this to myself. I’m going to frame this and hang it in my room. To keep me motivated. Thank you beautiful writer. You are amazing!
You are so welcome, Matthew! I’m glad it resonated and encouraged you. It’s tough for all of us to remember this, but how we must. Keep pursuing your dreams. Choose faith over fear. And keep in touch!
I’m writing my first comic book. This meant a lot to me. Thank you so much.
My pleasure. Thank you for letting me know. Means a lot.
I’m a magician, and a very discouraged one right now. Thank you for the article
You are so welcome, Greg. Sometimes it helps to start asking positive “what if” questions – as in, “what if all these closed doors are actually the Universe guiding me to something much better and aligned to who I really am?” or “what if I could actually make a lot more money than I think I can?” or “what if it’s easy to get work?” – those kind of thoughts can open your mind up to new possibilities. Please feel free to reach out at me at email@example.com if you want to discuss the situation that is discouraging you. Don’t give up on your dreams. We have to deliberately and sometimes very willfully choose faith over fear.
I have had many, many days and nights over the course of the last month where I laid awake in bed or on my couch, even walking my dog aimlessly, while my mind was torturing me with all the questions and frustrations you described in this beautiful piece of writing above. Especially wondering how I can still be so broke after all these years, and still be so damn stressed out about simple basic things like paying for rent, car insurance, food. People who work basic retail jobs or do unskilled labor don’t have the kind of struggle paying bills I do, sometimes I envy their stability intensely. Just to have some kind of security, to have that constant pressure on my chest relieved for a while would be absolutely glorious. Even more tragic and traumatic is that my work has never been better, and I know I have creative gifts and a rare talent, and that lately I am continually within a breath of success on a scale that most people never will even get a glimpse of. The tragedy is that being an inch away from it makes everything even harder because I wonder if I will ever cross that final inch, or if I will be so entranced by looking right up at everything I want that I lose my apt and end up on the street, never getting to that next step. Living like this every day is hard, really hard. It took every ounce of my being just to get up today knowing I had to go to yet another crap audition for a terrible job that isn’t anywhere near what I want to be doing creatively or financially, meanwhile I need to find several hundred dollars in the next week that I thought I would have and now suddenly don’t.
10 minutes ago I was sitting on the bathroom floor looking across the web on my phone for some kind of inspiration that would get me in the shower and out the door, help me to believe and have faith again even if just for a little bit. Your amazing passage above has done that, and I want to sincerely thank you for writing something so honest and truthful and moving. You are absolutely right in everything you say, I knew all of it already I just needed to hear it at this moment because sometimes we get so wrapped up in all the negativity we just forget. Thank you, thank you. Know that your writing has made a difference to me, I am going to print the passage out and keep it for the next time I need to read it. I sincerely hope that your kindness of spirit and generosity is repaid, and I will find a way to pay this forward to someone else in your honor.
You are so very, very welcome. And your words have truly blessed me as well. Truly. I have been struggling with what I have to say here on this blog lately, and hearing that it has blessed you and nourished you gave me tears. We all struggle. We all need each other to remember our purpose. Thank you and please do write me and keep me posted on your journey. Hugs to you!!
thank you ❤ this month has been rough, this helped a lot.
Thank you for this! Your post came up on a Google search and I’m glad I stopped here to read such encouraging words. I’m a designer and I’ve been struggling between my art and working a “normal job” that feels like its draining my soul. I identify with the constant anxiety and I admit that fear has totally made me second guess myself constantly. Thank you for the reminder that its ok and that no matter how far behind I feel that I’m exactly where God wants me to be. All I have to do is keep climbing because I’m worth it. I hope that God continues to bless you and your gift of words. Again, thanks for the encouragement!
You are so very welcome ❤ Thank you for taking the time to share this with me.
Ohhh gosh, this post is exactly what I needed to hear right now! Thank you. For me it’s, I like my day job and it brings me a good salary, so it’s all about battling the fear that I’m not working hard enough at art on the side… And “what if I don’t enjoy it enough”… I’m going to put this quote on my wall! “Keep trusting that the Universe hasn’t brought you this far just to drop you now.”
Thank you for your support and information and warm words
You are so welcome, Crystal!
Thank you. I’m not stopping but today was discouraging. I’m a climber too so your words on the mountain top (lack of) will now be a part of me. Words are art too and today your words helped me to get up again.🙃☺️
Oh, thank YOU for sharing this, Heather.! Means a lot to hear it. I am so glad it helped you keep going. If you haven’t read David Bayles & Ted Orland’s book “Art & Fear” — please do so. It will touch your soul. Big hug to you!
Tank you very much,these words really inspired me and motivated my spirit never to give up no matter the situation might be,becuase the future is really beautiful just when u believe in your self
You are so very welcome! I’m glad the article encouraged you. Stay true and be strong for your Self. Hugs!!
Thank you for this encouragement, hope and wisdom. For a long time I have feared failure and have gotten distracted from my dreams as an artist and healer. To the point where it has been tempting to think of giving up on life ( in the worst sense of the word.) It means alot and I know I just need to believe in me and I was born and meant to be here. Have you ever been in that place in your life where you were discouraged and doubted yourself?
I think every creative goes through discouragement and doubts on a regular basis. It’s like a cycle. I would highly recommend the book Art & Fear, by David Bayles as well as Elizabeth Gilbert’s Big Magic.
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