The crucial skill every artist needs to have

The crucial skill every artist needs to have

One of the most essential moments for the artist is showing their creation to other people. It can bring you a lot of pride and joy. But sometimes also shame, pain and ego damage. How comes? That’s the topic. Today we talk about vulnerability of the creator.

I don’t even know how many people I know that write novels and hide them in the drawer. Compose music and erase it because it sounds “banally”. Have dreams about taking the acting course or even making a Youtube video, but the thought of the reactions of their friends scares them to death. The truth is – I don’t know how many people like that I know, because they never show their aspirations to the world. And that is a massive pity. But one thing is certain: I was/still am one of them.

Vulnerability of the artist

If you are a creator, an artist, then you most probably want to show your works to other people and you want them to like it. But when you think about it… it’s not so easy, right?

What if they DON’T like it? What if they think I’m not talented enough to sing/compose/dance? Would they laugh at my English in that video? Do they think that I’m stupid because I want leave my job as an accountant and become a writer?

You look at your work, that doesn’t resemble the works of your idols, hear all these questions and already feel the warm shower of shame.

The temptation of perfection

But then you got this brilliant idea. “What if I make it perfect? Nobody can criticize me if my work is flawless”. So you begin the endless cycle of refinement. “Perfect” becomes your armour and you wear it with pride. But this armour is heavy. The cycle is tiring and it kills your joy of creating. In the worst case scenario – you realize that you can never be perfect and you abandon creating for good. If you can’t make something ideal – then you’re obviously not made to be an artist.

Striving for brilliance in a sense of trying to achieve the best result you’re capable of can be a birthplace of magnificent works and creativity flow. Striving for perfection defines its grave.

Where to hit a musician

Musicians exist in 3 worlds:

  1. creativity,
  2. craft,
  3. and live performance.

In the creative stage, you take that idea that you believe is important and bring it into existence your way. You pour your emotions into it. You dedicate yourself and reach deep within yourself to get that vital element, pull it out and “dress it up” like the work of art it is.

The craft stage is where you practice. You work on your technique and musicianship. You get to know your field and develop skills. You want to have the best possible medium to convey the message you’ve created in the stage above. So you sit, put your head down and work.

Creative and craft stages are exciting, but the next one will always top them. It’s live performance. Bringing your art out to the people and experiencing it together with your audience. Getting to show your skills and being that medium for emotions.

In each of those stages a musician is being vulnerable. The creative stage is a flood of emotions – it is not that easy to just take all these and show them to people, nor is it simple to deal with them yourself. The craft stage demands admitting that you’re not yet where you want to be, patience and humility. The live performance stage brings confrontation with people and their reactions to your work. A failure at any point in any of them, judgement, mean comment, lack of understanding – triggers that “I’m not enough” feeling.

If you’re an artist, you create, you work with emotions and you want to survive, you need to cope with all that. But there is a way to do it.

How to master vulnerability

There is a few things that need to be said out loud. First of them: creating and showing the result to the world is a courageous act. If you do it – I admire you, no matter the effect. The quality of your work is something that will always be improved with effort, work and time. So please, try. In the end even if you fail – it tastes endlessly better than regret. Everybody sucks at the beginning.

The next thing: who asks all these questions stated above? Who told you you’re not enough? In 99% of times – it is YOU. It’s exclusively in your head. It is your job to take care of yourself. Now try to observe how does your inner monologue look like. Most probably – not very positively. You strain yourself and call you names. Make the positive talks outnumber the negative and you’ll blossom.

Finally: obsessive perfectionism only serves to protect your ego. To “outsmart” the possible critics. Forget about perfectionism. If you try your best and go forward – this is enough. It will get you further than you could ever imagine. It doesn’t mean that you’ll always win in the micro perspective, but in macro – hell yeah.

Vulnerability is the art of showing yourself to the world, embracing it and hearing the critics, but not listening to them. You can get hurt in the process, but in the end you’re damn proud of yourself, no matter the result. You uncovered yourself and you survived.

I’m a massive fan of learning by doing, so here’s the thing: you get courageous by promising yourself that you will go to the arena and proving yourself right. Repeating this process will piss off your critics and make the biggest one of them – your inner critic  – shut up. That’s the crucial skill.

And what is most importantly: it will make you invincible.

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This post was inspired by talks of Brené Brown, who is a vulnerability researcher, and my own experiences. If creativity is involved at any point in your work, you should definitely get familiar with her lectures. I post my favourite one below.

To sum this all up – I struggle very often with my inner critic and I try every day to prove him wrong. Every time I play, post something, write a text here – I question myself if it’s of any worth to anybody. But if it helps even one person – I’ll do it.

8 Replies to “The crucial skill every artist needs to have”

  1. Hey Micha, I usualIy dig your posts, but this one was the one that reached the deepest over here. As someone who is starting to release material after a whole life dealing with music I can tell: it has been the hardest (and also the sweetest) thing ever. I’ll totally check those lectures.
    Keep up the good work, you are awesome! ✌🏻

    1. Thank you, Rique! Absolutely, check out her works, it’s just pure inspiration. I adore this stuff! 😀

    1. Hey Debora, thank you for reaching out. ❤️ It means a lot! Don’t forget to explore Brown’s work and reaserch, this stuff is brilliant. 🙂

  2. Nicely written 🙂 You were brilliant even before joining Elu, now you blossomed into not only an awesome musician, you also write interesting, deeply thought articles such as this one. As a polish fan, I am really, really proud of you 🙂

  3. Thank you so much for this article, I needed to read this! I am currently working on a music cover and some own music, and I especially have the thoughts about my voice not being outstanding enough etc.
    You are such an inspiration to me, because you are truly dedicated.

    Lots of Love <3

  4. Hello Michalina! 🙂
    Thank you very much for this article! I needed to read something like this, especially now that I’m in a sensitive moment in my life, in regard to my efforts in what I love to do. You inspire me a lot, both as a person and as a musician (I want to be a Hurdy Gurdist one day).
    Keep being this incredible person and constantly evolving! You’ll go far, girl.
    💙✨

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