You set your pen, paintbrush, your mic or knife down for the day. Dance beats are turned down, and your neck glistens with sweat. As you cool the artist within and try to enjoy, calm down — the everpresent question inside needles you: Was it good enough?
No one can freeze themselves into an anxiety-funk like artists can.
In countless beautiful artistic callings, one things’s for sure — a different criteria exists within each of us. What counts as quality isn’t exactly easy to define in art. When perfection is a standard you demand of yourself everyday, you can be iced into procrastination. This is a state where expectations shackle you so heavily, it becomes a relief to put away the very art that brightens your life. So this is my healing to you, fellow artist.
I’m writing about creating art as a witness. A beam catcher. When the truth you say matters more than how you say it.
I’m going to first express some truths about my own calling: writing. I’ve experienced these epiphanies to be true. As you read, accept what connects with you and leave aside what doesn’t, adding in your truth to my narrative.
Every First Attempt Is Good & Terrible
People put a lot of pressure on ‘how good you are’ as an artist. By goodness they usually mean rightness, quality, correctness. How you expressed it.
But hidden in how you say something, lies the bareness of what you’re saying. And at your best (aka most truthful), it comes from the heart, from a true part of you. Something you really felt and experienced. Your concept. And that’s always good. It cannot be bad if you expressed what you really believed — it’s the heart.
So your true, deepest concepts are always good. While every attempt is good in meaning — not what you did, the way you did it can be wrong. It isn’t bad, it’s just wrong. ❤
Right and wrong, I believe, are less drama-queeny words to describe quality. They’re lighter, effective and got more chill. Because wrong can always be improved and corrected, set right.
Every art piece needs to be tweaked a million little times till it’s volume is turned all the way up. Until it’s strong enough to hit people with the magnitude you hope for.
This way, we can say your first draft is both good and terrible. The goodness, inner message value is retained and thus your inner security is protected. You stay happy and hopeful. But the expression usually is, in the beginning, kinda comically terrible. But this is an opportunity, for it represents exactly the kind of rich artistic journey you wanted to go on. You’ll need to sharpen and slice, add shots of color and light till it’s the best you could make it.
And so it becomes right now but remember, it was always good.
The Key To Mindblowing Expression
We’ve gone beyond ‘rightness’ and ‘perfection’ — to feeling it, connecting it to our inner values. To our heart, soul. What we really mean and feel. And that’s really the key to what you create — do you understand it? Does it do the world good? Can you get 100% behind it?
When we do this, we start to fly. No matter the art form, when we go purely on feeling and expression, we catch things from the universe. This only comes through an absolute absense of self-consiousness. When the words, beats or brush strokes form themselves. Not from you, through you.
This is flow state, but it isn’t a purple cow. It’s not a rare gift, a one time affair. If you’re truthful and build enough trust with yourself, this can happen every single time.
And this is the moment you realise — the perfection and you were looking for is coming through. The mindblowing artistic expression is coming through, because you’re feeling it. Quality is one son of a gun that comes only when you completely forget about it. When you’re too busy feeling and flying.
When you know your words aren’t supposed to be perfect, they’re supposed to reflect the perfection you’re feeling.
All of this has been my gleaning for writing. But I want to prove to you, this spiritual inner connection to art can unleash skill you’ve never known before in any art form. Here are a few humble experiences across piano, singing and dance…
This skill was first taught to me when I was 7 and then Youtube led me on. But it’d been about memorizing complex combinations of chords to ‘impress’ and sound amazing — I hadn’t grown to love it. At 16, I now do. Switching it on after two years to learn a new song that meant something deep to me, music was a revelation.
Music became an other-worldly art for me this week. It’s got no words or logic or heavy thinking — just time, silence and practise. Watching the dots join, the inexpressible emotions become a sound, reflecting feeling and inner beauty like no other art. I watched in wonder as my intelluctual mind shut down. (This was so relaxing, I kept coming back all week to learn on piano because it was like my out-of-breath writer’s mind went on rest mode and the quiet magic of the hands’ application took over.)
When you play an instrument, a firework lights in your mind. All brain parts light up because it’s an visual, audio & motor challenge. To me it felt as if little Vanni’s dedication and gift was coming through me — a piece of her existed in all this music she’d learnt. And I was doing nothing — tunes just existed like memories in my fingers. (Whaaaat? *squeals*)
It felt like the universe coming through. Like a magical being beyond my rational insight looked at the piano tutorial, and intuition made my fingers break that music down. Analysis, vivisection, understanding their story voices. Certain chords recieved characteristics like people do, music remembered as a story memory in my mind. It took 0% conscious effort and tons of repetition. I wasn’t thinking at all.
In a way, it was like the universe was telling me:
Shut up, get out of the way, and witness.
Witness universal gems and surprises as they come. Witness your soul tell you truths beyond the creation ability of the rational mind. It was like nature, my hands, the universe and my soul already knew what they had to do — had unspokenly connected the path already.
And if loud, laborious-thinky Vanni got in the way, she’d disturb the delicate flow. So she just had to shut up, get out of the way, and witness. Feel the magic happen.
I sat in my bedroom yesterday, and put a blue eyed, tufty polar bear on my bed as audience. After dabbling in songs for a while, I remembered an old one and stopped in my tracks — because it completely fit the feelings I was experiencing these days. It was my truth in another artist’s words. And I could get 100% behind it.
And when I sang this song, it was like a core life unlocked in my throat and chest. While far from sounding smoothly professional, it was the best I’d ever sung. True, reverberating, deep and absolutely soulful. I never knew such a voice existed within me until, instead of trying to do things right, I decided to feel.
First day of the week, when I walked into a closed curtained room to, ready to dance the writery-abstract fogginess around me off. (I recommend spontaneous dance-parties to everyone on a desk job. It’s like gulping an energy drink, an immediate destresser.)
Honest-to-god teenage girl cliche, I turned up a stupendous BTS dance beat. But even then, I stopped to copy their moves and technique nettled my mind. Then I stopped midway, and confronted my dance embarrassment sayin’ out loud, ‘What’s this for girl? Technique? Shut up. It’s meant to be fun.’
Last day of the week rolled around, and I ended up ready to dance again on the same song. (This makes you believe in serendipity, does it not? Like the universe is some kinda giggly, coincidency merry-making being.)
Here’s the funniest teen shizz you’ve heard all week — I needed to watch myself as I danced, so I taped my phone on the black reflecting TV screen with clear tape. It was perfectly safe. (My phone actually came out looking parlour-waxed.) But yeah, it made a horrifying sight. And this is why you draw curtains to keep Mama out.
Dance is possibly the height of appearing cool. But I’ve been a jolly-excited but painfully cringey dancer for nearly my whole life. In that moment, a quote of Michael Jackson’s came to my mind.
‘I become the sound, the music. I become the beat.’
The BTS boys were now pop n’ locking to life on my rectangular screen. And for the first time, looking at my dancing black reflection, I was flowing with the hip-hop and getting the moves right. (!)
I looked cool. Spaced out and swag-like. Exhiliration bloomed within me.
The Universal Experiencer
The essence of everything I’ve told you is:
In our happiest moments, our dance, our art, our gratitude for life and our dreams for the future — you’re going to feel something within you.
There is a universal experiencer within us, who’s living through and revelling in everything. Goodness exists. This Divinity experiences and celebrates life through all of us.
It’s the very place you’re getting all those beam-catching, witness ideas from. It also feels like this calm eternal presence within you. It’s there, trust me, it just takes a little bit of patience and trying to discover it.
To all my sibling artists, I want you to know. No worries or being overwhelmed. All this sudden excellence is just your truth, your soul.
It’s just your inner goodness come to life as magic.
I give you a virtual hug for your slice of time. Yup, you curled up there reading with the screen’s glow on your face. If you enjoyed this, please follow Lift You.
More than anything, I’d just really love to know…
How did this make you feel?
So would you gift me a comment?