Hard confession

I’ve spent a lot of time over the years convincing people that making art is just as natural as breathing. And as easy. 

But maybe I’ve been avoiding the hard truth. That making art can be hard. It can be hard keeping to a habit. Hard pushing past blocks. Hard mastering new media. Hard facing your mistakes. Hard being your own cheerleader. Hard seeing clearly. And hard putting yourself out there.

I’d convinced myself that if I make it seem like the barrier to entry is just a bead curtain that I will be doing people a favor. But when I make it seem easy and you find it hard, you might worry that you are exceptionally untalented or lazy or dumb. Which is far from true. 

The fact is that sometimes making art can be very demanding. 

And that’s okay.

Just because something is hard doesn’t mean it’s scary or to be avoided. Hard can be good. It can make the corpuscles course through your veins. It can make you stand taller. The things that are hard to do are often the ones worth doing. Success isn’t meant to be easy. 

In my own life, I have many things on my plate, but I’ve been working to eat my vegetables first and save dessert for last. Just because something is easy to tick off the list doesn’t mean I should do it first. Instead, I try to crack at least one tough nut a day.

At times, I’ve had the reverse approach. I told myself that it is better to have a sense of accomplishment by plucking low-hanging fruit and doing something easy — making the bed, answering email, emptying the dishwasher — than it is to tackle the things I dread.

But Ive learned that the pleasure of having won the hard battle is far greater and worth the pain. 

Now I start the day by thinking and writing and inching ahead, and end it in front of the TV with a basket of towels to fold. Life is easier when you scale the mountain first and coast down it the rest of the day.

My advice: Your days are numbered and there’s loads to learn — so don’t be afraid of something because it seems difficult. Rather, seek out the toughest challenges and fight your way through them.

It can be done. And you are the one to do it.