But that shouldn’t stop you from making it.
It has been a few years since I quit my full-time job to be an artist, and it might look obvious to outsiders that I made the right choice, but that decision was scary AF. Nobody asked me to quit my job to be an artist. Nobody was beating down my door to get their hands on my work. Honestly, people couldn’t have cared less about my creations.
People care about my work a little bit more now, but that doesn’t mean I don’t have doubts about putting new creative work out there. In fact, I have a lot of doubts, and not just about my art.
I do a lot of creative writing. I’d say that I’ve dreamed of being a professional writer more than I’ve dreamed of being a professional artist. I can put new paintings on social media without hesitation, but will I share the poetry I wrote a few weeks ago? That’s a big nope. Too scary. Not gonna do it (yet).
Creativity is a vulnerable state.
Anytime you explore your creativity, you encounter vulnerabilities. Sensitive parts of yourself that you want to protect. Being a creator involves putting yourself into your work, and then hoping that your work doesn’t get rejected, because if your work is rejected, does that mean you are being rejected? It doesn’t, but it sure does feel that way sometimes! This is why it’s tempting to wait until someone requests something from us. If they asked for it, they are less likely to reject it. Right? Also, they are more likely to buy it…
I’ve been spending more time writing creatively these last few weeks, and I found myself thinking who is asking for this? Hence, the blog post.
Literally, nobody is asking for this.
Nobody is asking me to write poetry or tackle the fiction project in my head. Partially because nobody knows about it, but mostly because it just doesn’t work this way. Your audience is not meant to ask you to create or to guide your work. Especially if you don’t even have an audience to begin with! Creators aren’t supposed to wait for permission, we’re just supposed to make things.
Whether you are brand new to flexing your creativity or you’re a career artist who is looking to make a change, you can’t wait for someone to ask for your art. You have to follow your inspiration, put it out into the world, and see what happens.
Maybe it’s art that has never been done before. Maybe it’s classic art with your voice behind it. Or art that strays from your norm. Maybe it’s art that even you don’t fully see in your mind yet. Maybe it’s just a blooming passion sitting in your chest that keeps growing and growing and you have to write, sing, dance, play music, or draw to release it. That’s art that nobody is asking for, but it’s the art you need to make, and it’s the art that will speak to others with authenticity.
Surprise Yourself and Your Audience
With any new creative task, there is a sense of novelty that comes with it, and novelty is often most satisfying when we don’t know what’s coming. I look at a blank canvas and think about what it could be. Should I make something similar to what I have done before? Or should I continue to evolve? A little evolution with every work of art is preferred.
When you listen to a band you love, do you want them to create the same songs over and over again? Do you want your favorite author to write the same stories? Or do you want them to surprise you?
Novelty and evolution will elevate your creative work, but your audience has no idea how to ask for that. They cannot tell you how to surprise them. They don’t even know that they want to be surprised. This means, you as the creator will be filled with uncomfortable uncertainty, vulnerability, and apprehension to make new art.
Should you let that stop you? Heck no! Will you want to give up before you finish your project because the thought of putting in all this work with the potential that it will be rejected in the end scares the sh*t out of you? Yup. There will be a lot of that.
Do it anyway.
Anytime I start a new project, I could easily talk myself out of it just by asking “Who even wants this? What’s the point?” But my passion begs me to play.
I want this. That’s all that I need. I can hope that others will enjoy what I put out there, but that’s not the reason I create.
When it comes to your art, the only person that needs to ask for it is you. It might be tempting to ask friends, family, or followers “What do you want to see from me?” but I want you to ask yourself that. Listen to your own intuition and creativity. You might be lucky and have wonderful people in your life that consume everything you do and beg for more. If you have that, cherish the sh*t out of it. Or, you might have people in your life that actually ask you to stop creating. They might give you the ol’ “don’t quit your day job,” jab as a light joke. You might pretend it doesn’t crush you, but internally you crumble and never touch a paintbrush again. If you have experienced that, I’m sorry. It sucks, but don’t you dare let them take away your desire to create.
Don’t wait for someone to ask for your art, and don’t listen to those that tell you to stop.
Make art. Write stories. Be a courageous creative. Put your creative babies out into the world and maybe others will enjoy them too. If not, f*** ’em.
A note from the future:
I wrote this blog post in the Fall of 2020. As I edit this, it is the Fall of 2022. In that 2 year span, I wrote a novel from the first draft to the final edits. I even sent that novel off to a handful of literary agents and submitted it to a writing fellowship. I was rejected by all. Nobody asked for this book and so far nobody actually wants it. It has felt demoralizing at points and I’ve of course wallowed, but I am grateful that I brought this story to life. It doesn’t matter if it goes nowhere, because I already benefited from the act of creating it.
Make the art. Write the story.
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P.S. You probably know by now that I am here to help artists with these posts. If you need help with your online branding, Instagram account, or just want a creative accountability coach, then check out my consulting services. You can easily add a session to my online calendar now.