I’ve been working with creative and performing artists as, first, a therapist, and then for the last thirty-five years as a creativity coach. I’ve learned from my clients just how hard they find completing their creative work. Many creatives have trouble getting started; many have trouble working regularly; but almost all have special problems near the end, when the finish line is in sight. In this series, I want to spell out twelve reasons why completing creative work is so darn hard.
I’m framing this series from the point of view of a painter’s challenges, but the points apply to someone working in any creative field, from writing novels to game designing, from filmmaking to app development. I’m sure you’ll be able to easily translate the points I’m making to the medium in which you work. If you’d like additional resources, let me recommend three of my recent books: Redesign Your Mind, The Power of Daily Practice, and The Great Book of Journaling. Together they can provide you with a clear picture of how to get your creative work done through right thinking, good daily habits, and the self-awareness that journaling provides.
Here is challenge number 12.
Not being ready to start selling and to experience all that potential criticism, silence and rejection.
Some artists are natural-born salespeople and love the marketplace. Most artists are extremely reluctant salespeople and a sizeable number despise treating their works of art as commodities.
Not only is selling art difficult and often unpalatable, the act of submitting your works of art for sale brings up the specter—and the likelihood, verging on the certainty—that you will be met regularly (and far too often) by silence and indifference, on the one hand, and criticism and outright rejection, on the other.
Few artists want this silence, indifference, criticism and rejection and many artists find such interactions so painful that they avoid them at all costs. One simple way to avoid the painful side of selling art is to not complete your works of art. There are other ways, too—by completing things and then putting them aside and letting them accumulate, by making such limited efforts at marketing that they hardly count as marketing at all, etc.—but by far the simplest way, and a way chosen by lots of artists, is simply to not complete things.
If you are caught up in this dynamic, try to break this cycle right now. Spending frustrating year after frustrating year not completing your works of art because you loathe or fear the marketplace is a very bad idea. Please try to get easier with the marketplace and decide to brave it. You may not love this idea; but is having three-quarters-finished works of art piling up the happier prospect?
I hope you’ve enjoyed this series. If you have any questions or comments, drop me an email to [email protected]
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