Making Art Like A Professional

It’s March 1!

This time last year, we had finally settled into our new living space, and were having this realization: Oh shit!  We have to make both a wedding and an evening-length performance piece in the next three and a half months!

Guess how much fun that was?  IT (mostly) WASN’T!!!!!

making a wedding is actually a lot like making theatre- so learn from my mistake and don't try to do both.

And, it wasn’t, because I allowed myself to get in a truly awful head space around making the performance piece.

It went something like THIS HAS TO BE THE MOST BRILLIANT THING I HAVE EVER MADE!  In other words, I shot myself in the foot from the beginning.  Because, who can live up to pressure like that?  It was paralyzing.  For months I didn’t sleep and woke up with middle-of-the-night anxiety sweats, worried that I COULDN’T FIGURE OUT WHAT THE PIECE WOULD LOOK LIKE OR HOW TO MAKE IT GREAT!  And what if this was my only chance?  Totally disembodied, creating a movement piece was very tricky.

Add to that the wedding (simple is never simple), and I was a pretty comical basket case.

Fast forward a year later, and I like life a whole lot more.  In addition to learning that putting too much on my plate is totally not helpful, I’ve re-evaluated my methods for making artistic work– or, really, anything.  This was influenced by reading The War of Art (thanks, Jen Scott!), by Steven Pressfield.  And, today I want to share his advice: make art like a professional.

Pressfield says that we should think of our art like we do our paying job (if it’s not already our job).  In our jobs, there’s a lot less at stake than in our art: it’s less personal.  At your job, you show up, you do the work, you leave.  Sometimes it’s good, sometimes it’s not.  You don’t confuse your personal value with the work you make.

So, rather than sitting awake in my bed in the middle of the night, convincing myself of my major inadequacies, I should have just committed to putting in the work, to the best of my abilities.  Everyday.  I should have prevented myself from jumping to the ending result.  By deciding that the final product was going to be a reflection of me (positive or negative), I totally self-sabotaged.  I over-identified with my work.  I decided that, if it sucked, so did I.  And, as a result, I was paralyzed.

And, cast, crew, and husband–  I’m sorry for the good dose of crazy I exposed you all to.  I think I learned my lesson.

Do you agree with Pressfield?  Have you ever found yourself in a similar situation? What helped?

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