You Don’t Have To Struggle For Your Art
Jamie Varon

I guess it depends on what you mean by “struggle”. Jack White says you have to have a fight with your guitar; have a fight and win. If you don’t have a struggle, make one up. I heard another artist recently say he doesn’t trust art that doesn’t bleed, sweat, or cry. In all likelihood there is no art without struggle. That’s life. And art is about life.

The only way to get past a creative block is to keep creating. But that depends on a couple of things.

It depends on your willingnes to fail. Not everything is going to be great. Not everything Alvin Ailey choreographed was Revelations. A lot of artist had to create a lot of crap to get to the great stuff. But as van Gogh once said:

“The fishermen know that the sea is dangerous and the storm terrible, but they have never found these dangers sufficient reason for remaining ashore”

There is no substitute for putting in your “10,000 hours”. There is no short cut. You don’t find your voice without trial and error. No one ever talks about all the years the great artists and researchers got it wrong before they created their great works, what I heard one speaker call “the lost years”.

You have to love what you are doing, not do what you love. As choreographer Merce Cunningham once said, you have to love the “dailiness” of dance. You have to love the day in/day out of practice and creating. If you don’t love the uncreative parts of a creative endeavor, you’ll hate doing what you love.

Martha Graham once said:

“No artist is pleased. There is no satisfaction whatever at any time. There is only a queer, divine dissatisfaction, a blessed unrest that keeps us marching and makes us more alive than the others”

You do it because you can’t imagine not doing it. You continue doing because you are driven by what’s next, what could you have done better, how do you do better.

BUT! If your struggle is “But what about making a living? I got bills.” Everyone sets their priorities. What’s yours? It’s “10,000 hours”. You don’t have to do it all in two or three years. A little bit at a time. Just know, you will progress as quickly as you commit to progressing. Some people just started earlier in life than others.

I don’t trust anyone’s creativity that comes easily, without struggle. That’s a lie. It may be easy now, but only because of all the struggle, the dailiness invested, the hard work that came before. You want to be creative? Do the work. If it were easy, everyone would be doing it.

And, yeah, a lot of time it is about getting out of your head.