What Scares Artists Most
Have you ever wondered why some artists succeed while others fail?
It’s not talent.
There are plenty of talented people hiding in the shadows.
Is it connections then?
You’re getting closer. It does help to know people who can expose you to a bigger audience.
But even that is no guarantee your fame will last more than 15 minutes.
The one thing that puts any artist into the spotlight is audacity.
Check the dictionary, and you’ll find the words that define audacity aren’t our reality much of the time.
- Fearless daring; intrepidity.
- Bold or insolent heedlessness of restraints, as of those imposed by prudence, propriety, or convention.
- An act or instance of intrepidity or insolent heedlessness: warned the students that any audacities committed during the graduation ceremony would be punished.
Source: American Heritage® Dictionary of the English Language, Fifth Edition. Copyright © 2016 by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publishing Company. Published by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publishing Company. All rights reserved.
Fearlessness lives in children, but is driven out by well-meaning parents.
Kids don’t know it’s not polite to say no when Mom asks you to do something.
They don’t realize you should be quiet in church, at funerals, and at weddings.
So we overcompensate by telling them to be quiet. When they ask why, we reply, “Because I said so.”
It’s easier to squash children’s adventurous spirits than to harness them for good.
The problem is we take that sense of safety into adulthood. It manifests when we don’t raise our hands in class. We don’t speak up in meetings. We don’t offer our ideas.
Because we’ve been told not to be disruptive.
Audacious lies trap us.
Has anyone told you an audacious lie?
“Your art is beautiful. It’ll make a great hobby for you. Just don’t expect to make a living with it.”
My teenage self accepted this without question.
In any conversation about your art, the most audacious person wins.
If I had been more sure of myself, I’d have challenged anyone who said my art was nice, but worthless.
Here are three things to consider.
- If your critic isn’t an artist, who are they to say you can’t make money with your art? How do they know? What experience do they have? And even if that person is an artist, they can only offer an opinion. Test the market and find out for yourself.
- Art is subjective. It’s not for everyone. Stephen King has sold 350 million books in a world of over 7 billion people. That’s 1 in 20 people if every book sold to a different person. It’s actually higher because his fans buy several of his books.
- Audacity is more important than talent. You can have all the talent in the world — but if you don’t have confidence, your talent will flourish in hiding. And it might even wither from disuse.
Become More Audacious Today
It’s summertime as I write this. Lately the temperature outside has hit almost 100 degrees.
And the humidity feels like a sweat blanket on your back if you stand outside for more than five minutes.
The best way to cope is to go inside or go swimming.
When you get ready to swim, there are two ways to approach the pool.
Go down the ladder.
Usually there’s a 20 degree difference in the air and water temperature. 80 degree water feels like ice when the sun on your skin is a sizzling 100 degrees.
So you creep in, letting the chilly water inch up your legs. Go too far and your brain screams, “Not so fast! I’m dying here! Make it stop!”
By the tine you’re all the way in, half an hour passes. It’s like checking your phone before you start working. Time gets sucked away in the safety world of distraction.
Be audacious when you go swimming.
My son taught me this.
“Why spend so long getting used to the water when you can jump in from the deck?”
The shock was intense.
But it was over in 5 seconds.
Fear tells you audacious lies.
You don’t jump because you think you’ll die.
You probably won’t.
You’re afraid the worst will happen.
Maybe, but probably not.
You don’t grow unless you leap.
You stay scared when you play it safe.
Jump in. Take a chance. Things might not go as planned, but they might be amazing.
Good things come to those who jump.
Make it a habit, and you’ll build a career.
Audacious moves you can make now.
Did you write something you’re proud of?
If that scares you, start with friends. Their feedback will feed your courage.
Stretch yourself by sharing your work with strangers. Not just any strangers. Find people who are interested in the same thing you are.
Remember that your art isn’t for everyone. Feedback is valuable when you learn from it. Some will like your art. Some won’t.
Do your work for those who want it.
You deserve success as much as anyone else.
What audacious moves have you made? How can you be more audacious? Let’s talk about it in the responses!