Posted by Deborah Atherton
One of the biggest mistakes we make as creative people is trying to go it alone, without external support or input. The view of the artist alone in his or her garret or basement, writing, painting, playing a few chords on the guitar, is a very compelling one for most of us, with deep roots in our culture’s vision of the arts. We feel that is how real artists operate, and that the loneliness of the artist with a vision is what makes the artist authentic.
But it is really hard to do accomplish anything all alone, which is what those lengthy and tedious Oscar award speeches are all about. It is true that much art is best created in solitude – novel writing or oil painting are not generally group efforts – but once the work is completed, or often, quite a bit earlier, when the idea is just being formed or the first version is being attempted – most artists want some input and support.
And then, once it is done and ready for public exposure, we want and need quite a bit of support. There are a lot of people needed to get a picture hung in a gallery, a song recorded, a book published. This includes not just the obvious people – agents, managers, booking agents, publishers, editors, gallery owners – but the people who help you stay in touch with your dream and accountable for putting it forward. The person in your life who says – Have you sent out those emails yet? Have you submitted your slides or your manuscript? Did you sign up for that conference?
The person who does this in your life might be a teacher, a mentor, a significant other, a colleague, someone in your workshop, or your coach – but most of us human beings need someone to check in with and keep us headed toward our goal. When our client Gail, the writer who we’ve been following in this blog, received a little support and found informed people to check in with about her work, she was able to begin her second book and enroll in a writing workshop in her area of specialization.
Going it alone is a difficult path, and often not a fruitful one. Almost all of us can benefit from getting a little help along the way. Finding someone who can ask you (kindly) if you’ve taken the next step will help you a long way on your creative journey.