Being an Artist is Hard

This…is the exact statement that was given to me from a friend of mine. I asked how their writing was going these days and this was their answer. I didn’t refer to it as an excuse, but as truth. That was the most honest statement I’ve seen in a long time. Life can get in the way of creativity. It can also do the opposite, sparking anything and everything from a chart-topping record to a best-selling novel, but for many of us, experiencing the likes of this world can be crippling. The crutches of our gifts don’t always appear to offer enough support to uphold the loads of internal concerns. So, what do you do, when everyday life gets a bit straining, leaving you tangled in resistance, stationary, not knowing what steps to take next?

Look to those who came out the other side. Make a choice to alter your surrounding and pay close attention to someone who’s been where you are and see your current stage as a past encounter. Usually, at this point, you find yourself surrounded by likeminded people who agree that life sucks, accompanying you in your misery. This gathering spills over into social media where cynicism feeds into your perpetual state of uneasiness. Many offer suggestions, yet provide no relief, for their words dig dipper into the hole you’ve been sinking in for quite a while. Months or maybe years past before you realize how long it’s been since you’ve been productive with your gift.

The longest creative drought I’ve experienced was almost a year or two. Life was pretty dense, weighing down enough to make going to work methodical. That time is a blur for me, for the best part about that period was getting sleep. Dreams became breaks in my reality. It happens. You can’t apply limits to someone’s journey, hill or valley. You are going to want to cuddle yourself in some dark room at some point, hoping to get away from everything pulling you down. What you don’t want is to turn that into home. Becoming content with downward spirals creates a numbness too strong to alter.

Eventually, that faucet of ingenuity will turn into cool, well water, overflowing your notebooks and calendars, providing a wealth of content for yourself and others. It’s difficult to see the light of it all when darkness consumes the moment. I have a suggestion. Next time you find yourself in a creative desert, write down I won’t stay here. Jot down the date and time, place it in your wallet and purse so that you can have access to it in the future. If you have a journal, document something illustrating your experience of being in the thick of your situation. This alone will provide inspiration once you’re in a place to reflect and redirect your energy. Yes, being an artist is hard, but it doesn’t always have to be. Pastor Steven Furtick of Elevation Church spoke about how our choices can turn into habits. Make a choice to get out of your rut so that it becomes habitual to get up when you’re down.

- Calvin Pennywell, Jr.