One of the bits of advice often shared for struggling or frustrated artists is a variation on “Make bad art.” It’s meant to be an encouragement to do what you feel inspired to do without stopping to listen to the inner dialogue that might be telling you the result won’t be loved by anyone.
I never cared for that phrasing, though. No one wants to make bad art and continuing to label it as such won’t work to break down the barriers that keep people from chasing their dreams. “Make bad art” is followed by “and have your friends criticize you behind your back.”
Instead I propose the following: “Make art you love.”
Create the painting that’s been clouding your dreams for years. Write the story you can’t stop thinking of and which you think is cool and/or important. Release the mixtape you’ve been fine tuning in Garageband for two months now.
It might not go anywhere. The prospect of it eliciting no reaction may actually be more intimidating and imposing than it being reviewed and received poorly. That’s understandable.
The next one might be better, though. Or the one after that. Each subsequent effort becomes easier to let go of because it’s not breaking through the self-imposed ceiling that’s in place.
That’s the approach I’ve taken with this and other blogs. Each post is easier to push “Publish” on because I’ve done so many times already. It’s also the approach I’m working to keep in mind as I keep working on my novel, preparing for it not to be a massive success on its own, but the wedge that breaks the ice and shows me how easily it can be done.
I don’t want this post or that novel to be “bad,” though. I’m writing that novel because I believe in the story. I might be the only one who feels that way, but I’ll have put something out into the world that I created and which I hope others will enjoy.
It will be art that I love, even if no one else does.
Chris Thilk is a freelance writer and content strategist who lives in the Chicago suburbs.