creative hard work

When you read an interview with someone who’s successfully living off their creative endeavors, they often highlight how hard they worked to get where they are. They talk about their sacrifices and the back-breaking labor to create something.

And while those are inspiring tales, so many of us who are still waiting for success are quick to dismiss how much effort we put into our projects.

“I threw this together really quick,” we may say, or “I barely tried on that thing.” We may have spent days or weeks working on something, but we’ll present it to everyone as, “Oh, I was just bored one afternoon.”

Of course we know why we do this – it’s a defense mechanism. Before someone can even critique us we’re already saying that we can obviously do much better. Sure, maybe it isn’t the best, but wait until we really work on something.

It’s a dangerous mindset, focusing on how people judge you and not how they judge your art. Sure, it may make you feel like a phenom who is filled with natural talent, but it also robs you of what is so important about good artists – passion. A decent artist can dash off something great before noon, but a great artist works until they think it’s brilliant.

To Kill a Mockingbird took two and a half years to write, but would the novel somehow be better if Harper Lee had finished it in six weeks? The trick isn’t to be so good that you don’t have to work on something, but that the work ends up creating something that seems effortless. ”I have only made this letter longer because I have not had the time to make it shorter,” Blaise Pascal wrote all the way back in 1657.

Be proud of your work and the time you put into it. When it comes to art, it’s conviction, not time, that people remember most. If you hand them something with pride, they will look at it through the lens of your labor and dedication. But if you toss something out saying it doesn’t mean much to you, it probably won’t mean much to anyone else either.