Surviving as an artist requires you to be strong. I’m not talking about the cliche of sex, drugs and rock ‘n’ roll. That might seem cool or strong, but actually it’s not. It doesn’t help you to survive as an artist, it helps you to run away from it. True strength lies in facing the challenges that come your way.
“The truth is that our finest moments are most likely to occur when we are feeling deeply uncomfortable, unhappy or unfulfilled. For it is only in such moments, propelled by our discomfort, that we are likely to step out of our ruts and start searching for different ways or truer answers.” (M. Scott Peck) And isn’t that what every artist is looking for, to find a different way to express his/her feelings, to find a better answer than the songs or paintings of other artists?
Intellectual criticism can block you in your creations that are so much needed in order to become a better artist. Strength also means, that you have the courage to look for supportive people. Surround yourself by your very own support team, a team of people who also serve as ambassadors of your art. For every friend or family member that tries to pull you down when being confronted with your art, you could look for three supporting people to compensate.
As artist you will experience many setbacks. You will need strength will help you to survive as artist, to keep on going despite all the setbacks. It’s important to realize that strength can have many different faces, and that you already are strong in your own way. Strength is about using every setback as a starting point for development.
One of the faces of strength is flexibility. Julia Cameron wrote film scrips for many years, and got turned down time after time again. Until she started to produce her own films. She used her setbacks to give her a new direction. In a previous function, Christine Lagarde, now managing director of IMF, was in a previous function confronted with the board of directors. She had to convince them to agree to her suggested changes. The night before the decision she realized that the odds where against her. Instead of using the usual pushing and manipulating tactics to get the votes, she decided to wait for another year. During that year she kept working on her plans. And a year later the board of directors unanimously supported her.
Strength also means that you start to dispute with your critical inner voice that might tell you that you are too old to start with learning that art, or that you will never make money with art, or that you are not eccentric enough for being an artist, or that your teacher already told you that you are not good at it, or whatever doubts you might have. Don’t push the doubts away, start to confront them, with positive affirmations and with surrounding yourself with supporters.