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I hope you enjoyed reading The War of Art as much as I did. Surely you’ve finished it by now! If not, I have no idea what you’re doing back here. Put your iPhone down and read. that. book.
I’ll wait. (Cue the elevator music.)
Oh, good! Now that your life has been completely transformed, let’s talk about something else you need in your life.
You need more sweat.
See, culture has created this image of the artist as someone who starves for his art. The artist is someone who wears threadbare clothes and jots notes in a moleskin journal while his own skin practically falls off his bones. The artist is a person who broods all day and gets not much else done.
What a bunch of bologna.
True artists know this is a load of nonsense. Artists are ACTIVE! Artists are too busy to waste away! Artists are engaged in the world, getting their hands dirty with paint or ink or clay or any of the other things life has to offer.
An artist can't afford to starve. An artist needs his energy to get back up and do it all again the next day.
Just as the amazing video by "This Girl Can" shows, athletes aren't afraid to sweat. They're too busy enjoying that spin class or perfecting that layup to care what they look like. And neither should the writer, painter, dancer, or singer. We can't afford to care about how we look in-process. because caring too much about what the process looks like keeps us in isolation.
Be bold. Be daring. Be willing to look foolish for the sake of your art. Branch out and don't be afraid to share the process with others who are doing the same. For starters, every artist needs accountability to get stuff done. Just because we don't form teams like basketball players doesn't mean we don't need people pushing us to bring our A-game.
Get in a writing group. Take another design class. Form a community where there isn't one.
I know you’ve heard that art is a solitary pursuit. I know you’ve heard me say that’s wrongheaded.
We should see artists working together. We should see them sweating with exertion, not languishing romantically.
This week, I want to challenge you to let the world see some of your process. Sometimes, the art IS the process.
Tell me, where do you do your best work? Who edits your writing? Who looks over your shoulder to make sure you're giving it your all? This week, my goal is to go back to a piece I hated writing. I'm going to review it and retool it. And when that project gives me pushback, I'm going to give it some elbow grease.
I'm going to sweat it out. And so should you.