Seriously. Do you give your best to your art?
Maybe you do creative work for yourself, maybe you do it for others. Maybe it’s a mix of the two. In any case, whatever you’re up to, if you’re not serious about it, it probably won’t amount to a hill of beans.
Sound a bit harsh?
Yes, it is. Go ahead, test it yourself. See if you end up playing Nickelback covers at weddings, or scribbling half-baked sonnets after an awesome night of PBRs. See if you find yourself hanging out at Starbucks talking to no one in particular about the novel you haven’t started yet.
Not the prettiest sight.
But there’s hope.
“Invest yourself in everything you do. There’s fun in being serious.” —Wynton Marsalis
That’s right, being “serious” doesn’t mean being sullen or humorless. It means seeking to prioritize, to nurture. When you are serious about your creative work, you place it before other things. You tend to it.
You give it your best and it grows. And that’s fun.
Maybe you’re serious about your regular job, and think of your art as an escape. Maybe your creative work serves an an outlet for your persistent thoughts or bottled-up emotions. Maybe it’s a refuge from the day-to-day. But if you have something to say, something you haven’t expressed yet, you could be selling your creative work short if you relegate it to the humble purpose of blowing off steam — sandwiched between days spent, it so happens, doing work that has little or nothing to do with your art.
Do you want to have fun or not?
Then get serious.
Getting Serious with a Creative Plan
You’re busy, you say? Well, you had time last night to watch back-to-back reruns of How I Met Your Mother, so you probably have a few minutes to come up with a creative plan. A few post-it notes for your workspace:
Post-it #1: Respect the clock. Use your time wisely.
Post-it #2: Banish rationalization. You always have a moment for something important.
Post-it #3: If it’s not fun, you’re doing it wrong. Your playful self is your creative self.
Set a schedule. Stick to it. You don’t need to produce something brilliant or enduring every Thursday night at 8:00. You don’t really need to produce anything at all. You just need to be there, thinking and working and seeing the possibilities. As you recognize those possibilities, they will return to you again and again to continue the conversation. You’ll come to take them seriously.
And the more serious you get, the more fun you’ll have.