If talking about loneliness sounds a little unusual for Monday Motivation, well, hear me out. I've talked about my thoughts on the value of solitude before. Now that I've spent most of 2016 essentially being an independent maker of things, I've realized something further: If you want to make good art , and if you want to be prolific --- you have to regularly practice freeing yourself from the constant pull of other people for significant chunks of time.
If you're a working artist in some way, you already know that pursuing an unconventional path outside of the normal 9-to-5 already isolates you from most people you know just as a matter of course. I'm not saying it makes you better than anyone, either. I'm saying, if you're on the proverbial road less traveled, there are, obviously, fewer fellow travelers along the way to prevent you from driving yourself crazy.
Aside from that, I also mean that to grow and thrive as an artist, you must learn to release yourself from the tyranny of constant notifications, in order to give yourself a chance to hit your flow state. Replying to e-mail and social media comments, while part of the job, is not the work.
Getting out there in the real and virtual worlds is essential to absorb ideas and stay inspired, and building your network is one the most important parts of succeeding as an artist. Especially for the extroverts out there, this is the fun part: speaking gigs, big and interesting events, connecting with other artists and followers. But it comes at a price: these things take your time, attention, and energy away from actually making stuff, not to mention from doing the solitary grunt work required to make an art-based business sustainable.
For an ENFP like me, shiny social things are a convenient excuse to get away from the not-as-fun task of sitting down, by myself, to figure out how to begin wrangling an idea into an actual viable thing: a photography project, a short film, or even a simple blog post. At the end of the day, all the experiences and connections don't amount to much until you make the time to block out the outside world and make. Because what's the value of being connected if you have nothing much to share? You're a creator, and the stuff you make is your literal and figurative currency.
A lot of us can manage sporadic bursts of productivity, even brilliance. Do you remember how that feels? When you're so in the zone that the world just falls away and you find yourself working 'til the wee hours of morning, not noticing the time pass? How you forget to eat, to bathe, and resent when the outside world tries to interrupt? Well, unless you're doing that on a regular basis, you're not likely to graduate to becoming a full-fledged working artist. There's a lot of competition, and if you're not consistently churning out great stuff, you're probably not being seen.
And so, in the end, there's good news and bad news. The bad news is, you'll be alone a lot. You have to figure things out for yourself. That takes discipline and a lot of determination especially when you're not sure this is going to work. The good news is, you'll make beautiful things on a regular basis, and you'll find you enjoy the process after all.
And at least, if being lonely can lead to making beautiful things, making beautiful things, I have found, brings good people into your life in return.