A Few Questions

Paint as you like and die happy

– Henry Miller

Achieving success and fulfillment as an artist takes more than hard work. It requires the:

  • Perception to see your world (inner and outer) as it is
  • Discernment to choose a course of action
  • Focus to stay the course

The following questions may help you find this perception, discernment, and focus. Write down your answers in a journal. Some of the challenging questions will ask you to dig deep.

  • When are you fully self-expressed and connected as a musician?
    • Identify specific moments. Where were you? Who were you playing with? Who was in the audience? What did the music sound like?
    • How can design more of these experiences?
  • What artists/performances/recordings most resonate with you at a core level? Art that flips a switch emotionally and/or spiritually.
  • Does the music you play resonate in the same way?
  • If not, what can you change about your practice to connect with your own music on a deeper level?

  • Imagine yourself ten years from now playing ideal music under perfect conditions. Where are you? Who is there? What does it sound like? What’s stopping you from doing this right now?
  • Choose your audience: Who are the people who will connect and resonate with the music you create? What do they value? What type of experience do the seek? Where do they connect with each other?

  • If you never performed again, who would miss you?
  • What limiting beliefs get in your way? These biases and narratives may be hard to uncover, because they can be ingrained into our view of the world. A few examples:

– I’m not naturally talented enough to ______  (a.k.a. “fixed mindset”)
– I’ll never be as good as ______, so why bother
– Work is inherently unenjoyable
– Artists can’t earn a good living without selling out

  • In The War of Art, Steven Pressfield outlines strategies for fighting “the resistance”—our biological need to feel safe and secure. This can sabotage our art. How does the resistance interfere with your best work? Some examples:

– Talking yourself out of a project because of the fear of failure
– Avoiding listening to recordings/watching film of your performances
– Stage fright
– Obsessive perfectionism
– Procrastinating because you don’t “feel ready”

  • Have you defined success and fulfillment for yourself, or are you stuffing your journey into somebody else’s model/expectations?
  • If money wasn’t a barrier, what projects would you initiate?

  • What’s an exciting project you initiate with little or no cost?

Ignore the resistance and start now.

– ST