If you hear a voice within you say, ‘You cannot paint,’ then by all means paint, and that voice will be silenced. – Vincent Van Gogh.
(This is a post by Lisa Loop, Writer and Life Coach).
Is your creative gift going unused, still in the box it came in?
If you’re like a lot of Secret Artists, you’re keeping your creative yearnings to yourself.
I know I did.
Even as I achieved success in a highly competitive profession, the signals were there. I could pass for normal, but living inauthentically took a ton of energy.
And by the time I had earned an ocean-view office complete with assistant and expense account, I was worn out.
At 28 years old I felt burnt to a crisp from hiding my strengths.
My confidence was shot. Everyone must have known I was an imposter, right? Yet I was determined to keep trying. After all, isn’t that what you’re supposed to do?
The rewards were great: glamorous trips, limos all over town, hobnobbing with movie stars. Sure, I was miserable and headed for self-destruction. But I didn’t know what else I could do.
In truth, I was neither swan nor duckling; I was just displaced. Liberation came when a compassionate co-worker took me aside and explained me to myself.
“Lisa, I don’t know how to break it to you. But you’re supposed to be writing.”
That explained everything. My first reaction was embarrassment, denial, and utter terror. But there was no getting around it. My secret was out. The only way forward was toward my own voice, even if I had to bump over every pothole on the way. Which I’m fairly sure I have.
But the rewards of being real are worth every bruise. This journey is thrilling, and it is my own.
Along the way, I learned even more about what happens when artists try to bury their true nature. I feel privileged to share that knowledge, as a writer, teacher, and coach.
What would you do if someone “saw” who you truly are?
If you know in your bones that you have that creative something to bring to the world, you can probably feel it as you read this. It might be in the pit of your stomach or in the memory of that rare time you really used your powers, before putting them carefully back in the box.
Secret artists live a double life.
They function as regular folks while nursing a deeply-held incompleteness, a sense that they’re holding back. Consequently, life is bled of juice and joy. Time doesn’t make it easier, it only multiplies regret.
Being on a path of quiet stuck-ness is no way for a gifted person to live.
What if… you could open up the door to your creativity; write that screenplay, make those paintings, put together the proposal for that graphic novel?
How do you move past distractions and get some results?
You don’t need more classes, another book, or a famous expert. The key is creative practice; regular self-expression without fanfare, a habit like working out or brushing your teeth.
Begin by thinking of your work as a process, not a destination.
Put yourself in the work zone for at least a short time several times a week. You will grow, gain skill, and earn self-confidence. That part of you that’s been hiding all this time will flourish. And regrets? Only that you waited so long.
Expect to meet some monsters along the way, times when the urge to quit shows up with a pair of boxing gloves and an attitude!
HOW TO STAY STUCK:
1. Work sporadically. If you only show up for work when you feel “inspired” you’ll quickly return to feeling frustrated.
What can you do instead? Set aside smaller amounts of time more often, say fifteen minutes a day to start, and reward yourself like a champion every time you punch that clock. Habits get built one gold star at a time.
2. Interpret a lack of competence as relevant. If you aren’t a prodigy, you must not be destined for greatness, right? WRONG!
Being a beginner at your craft doesn’t mean you’ll never be an expert. It only shows that you need some miles on your tires. Science shows that when you struggle to learn a new skill, the learning really sticks. So when your mind tells you the work sucks, high five yourself anyway. Woohoo, you are on the right path!
3. Expect perfection. We’ve all been there; results are disappointing. This is a great place to quit, right? Probably familiar as well. Take a breath and give yourself a break.
This is the perfect time to shine on expectation and continue doing your own authentic, imperfect thing. Added points for noticing how hard you can be on yourself at times.
The goal of creative practice is not to garner one big harvest but to have you out in the field every day, rain or shine. Sometimes you’ll grow a perfect peach. Other days… you’ve harvested more compost.
Either way is a win.
Make it about getting to work, simple and doable, and you’ll meet your own standards every time.
And best of all, you’ll get to spend regular quality moments with your not-so-secretly-artistic, wildly authentic, regret-free self. I’d love to hear from you, are you a secret artist? Tell me in the comments!
A former Hollywood development executive, Lisa Loop is currently a Certified Co-Active Life Coach who coaches private clients in addition to teaching at TheFilmSchool, Seattle WA. She is currently writing a book about overcoming creative blocks and a trifle obsessed with Pinterest.
Special Skill: Lisa knows all the words of dialogue to the 1995 mini-series of Jane Austen’s “Pride and Prejudice”. She acquired this knowledge while watching it at least five hundred times.
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