What To Do When You Want To Give Up On The Creative Life

Remember — you are an artist because you think differently. You feel differently. You see the world in words, or colours, or sounds. Your talent is yours and yours alone, and that lives innately within you.

To the struggling artist,

Remember — you are an artist because you think differently. You feel differently. You see the world in words, or colours, or sounds. Your talent is yours and yours alone, and that lives innately within you. You don’t have any right to doubt something that exists so feverishly inside of you because it isn’t being affirmed by the outside world in tangible ways. You don’t have the right to question why the ideas come to you the way they do, or why they spill onto a canvas or a page or through the strings of a guitar. Just follow those creative instincts. Just listen to yourself, and your gut. You will never be able to define what it means to be an artist, because being an artist is about embodying creativity. And that is a feeling. That is a hope, a ruthless and feverish need to create no matter what. You have that within you. And therefore, you can’t question it. You can’t question whether you are worthy of it. You just have to follow it.

And I know. I know how hard it is to follow through with your creativity when you feel as though you have nothing to show for your passion. I know what it is like to wish you could paint like X, or write like Y, or find the same success as Z. I know what it is like to compare. But here’s the thing — when you see all that you compare yourself to, you are seeing a finished product. You are not seeing all of the steps, all of the frustration, all of the trial and error that went into those masterpieces. You are seeing the most surface level expression of someone’s passion. Monet took 30 years to finish his Water Lilies series. He dedicated his life to it. Every inch of that collection was a question. But it came together to create one of the most awe-inspiring illustrations of artistry. He simply had to keep creating. He simply had to keep going. He weaved together something that outlasted him. He was patient with himself. Be patient with yourself. Give yourself the space to create. Do not put a timeline on your success.

And while we are on the topic of success — you most likely won’t find the kind of success you envision for yourself. That is a true reality when it comes to creating in an age of extreme saturation. Some of the most incredible artists and creatives will never be recognized, and that is okay. That doesn’t make them any less of an artist, and that should never be your main motivation when creating art. If you are only creating art for recognition, or a payout, your art will never be truly authentic. You have to listen to yourself, and create the things you feel inclined to create. You cannot but those ideas in a box. You cannot pressure them, put expectations on them. Your work will reek of that conviction. You need to create from the most untethered part of who you are. Whether your art hangs in a museum one day, or if it changes just one person — at least you will know that it came from the most honest part of who you are, that you spoke your heart into existence.

So please, if you have something within you that pushes you to create, if you feel drawn to the kind of life that is rooted in expression and beauty and the very act of turning the worlds inside of your mind into words or brushstrokes or hymns — do not give up on that. Do not give up on what you innately desire. Do not get lazy with your passion, do not silence all that begs of you to create, to build, to make something from nothing. Have the courage to stand up for your talent. Have the courage to stand up for all of the art you have yet to create. Have the courage to stand up for your journey as an artist. Have the courage to believe in yourself, with ruthless and unapologetic conviction, because the truth is — you are the only person who is going to push yourself forward. To live life creatively is not easy, you will always be challenged. Instead of trying to fight those challenges, choose them. Choose to be uncomfortable. Choose the unknowns. Choose the growth. And keep creating, keep listening to your voice. Because if you don’t create the art that is within you, if you don’t speak that into life, someone else will.

Don’t be the artist that gave up. Don’t be the artist that walked away. Instead, be the artist that believed, above all else, bar success or recognition or monetary gain, that they were worthy of their passion.