Buh-Bye Barriers!

©Ronnie Walter
©Ronnie Walter

I’ve been thinking a lot lately about barriers to success. I’ve talked to lots of artists over the years that put up roadblocks for themselves and for any number of reasons they actually block their own potential.

Bummer.

Often its things like;

“Well my family never encourages me.”

or

“I have no time.”

Or

“Did you see Game of Thrones last week?”

Sometimes these are real obstacles and you have to decide whether or not you can get around them. Or find some creative way to climb over.

Things like:

You have no talent. Yes, I said it. Maybe, just maybe you don’t have what it takes to do what you are dreaming about doing. But all is not lost—you can fine tune your dream, you know. More training, or a mentor or you can practice practice practice –or realize that this really isn’t your thing and you can try something else until you find the thing that you do have the talent for. Own it and move on. It’s OK.

Maybe you are basically lazy. Yes, I said that too. And I’m not talking depression or other real issues here. I mean when you convince yourself that watching 11 hours of TV over the weekend (while eating Cinnamon Toast Crunch right from the box) is “relaxation” and “staying abreast of popular culture so I understand trends”. And I haven’t met an artist yet that doesn’t procrastinate sometimes.  Maybe you’re mulling over options and just aren’t ready to make a commitment to where you’re going on an idea. Yeah, let’s go with that. But procrastination means you are at least moving forward in your head, if not physically. But if you do find yourself in that position–sheesh, at least have a sketchbook next to you!

You have an educational deficit. We hear tons of stories about artists that are self-taught; they had no idea they were capable of this kind of genius and then one day they picked up a paintbrush and poof! a lucrative art career was born! Well, sure, that can happen! But a really good drawing class, or a teacher/mentor who really understands color theory or composition or proven business principles can usually move you forward faster than you can on your own. Unless you are that latent genius unicorn we’ve all been looking for. Do the fundamental work.

You have minimal emotional support. A biggie for sure. If the people in your immediate world do not understand what you are doing or why you would ever want to pursue something creative, I hate to tell you this– but you need to find additional people. Your current people may not support it since it’s not part of their world view or they might not see your vision or commitment yet. Maybe they will come around later, but in the meantime (either online or in real life) find some people that grasp the creative process and all the weirdness that comes with it. You can move forward without your people’s full support and then one day you’ll overhear them tell the neighbor “you know she decided she was going to be an artist—and you should see the most amazing work she’s doing!”

You have an organizational problem. Become a list maker. As my Aunt Marie would say, “immediately, if not sooner.” The only way you are going to see progress is to see all the steps ahead of you—and checking them off as you go. If you are not a list-maker try it for two weeks and get back to me with your results. This is how you go from the “I really want to do this” whine to “Wow! Look how far I’ve come!” happy dance. Make a date with yourself once a week. Sunday night. Wednesday morning. Don’t care when. Write your list for the week. Reward yourself. Wine. Doughnuts. Private jet. Don’t care. And don’t worry about complicating it with long term goals, short term goals, visualizations and affirmations (unless you want to, I’m not the boss of you—I just act like it). Just a simple list of the things you can do this week to move you closer to success. Tiny baby steps.

Forward.

 

Catch me over on Instagram where I am currently working on #100 Days of Advice–as of today I am on Day 65–that’s a lot of fun and heartfelt advice!

What I’ve Learned Half-way through my 100 Days Project

bossofyouRoughly 52 days ago I decided I would start a 100 Days Project like I have seen other artists do on Instagram. Or some do 365 Days of Paintings or 52 Weeks of Something. There are any number of ways to slice and dice the concept.

Before I started, I pondered what I would—and could–commit to. I decided to do 100 Days of Advice as my concept and hashtag. I thought this would give me a broad enough subject so if I wandered about with funny ones, or super serious or heartfelt advice I would still be within the parameters I had set up for myself. But it also allowed me to stay focused and not head into the all too familiar “what the heck should I do?” territory of creative life.  And I reminded myself that there weren’t any 100 Days Police out there ready to write me a citation if I headed in a new direction, skipped a day or abandoned the whole idea and turned to How to Make Oven Mitts out of Bath Mats as my next project.

Here are some things I learned so far:

  • Some days it’s really hard! Even though you have set your intention about what you want to do, actually continuing to have ideas—or enthusiasm–can be difficult to conjure up. But soldier on, my darlings—let yourself off the hook by doing simpler designs some days or a shorter message and get on with it!
  • Consistent daily action toward anything will bring you progress. If you picked up a harmonica tomorrow and practiced for the next 99 days thereafter, I’m pretty sure we could recognize a lively rendition of “When the Saints Go Marching In”*. In 100 days you will have an enormous body of work that you didn’t have before—now how cool is that?
  • As I look back on even these first 50 days, I am definitely seeing an evolution of my work. I don’t know where it will take me yet but I know that at the end I will have 100 seeds of ideas to develop further, to group together in ways I couldn’t see before and I suspect a few creative a-ha! moments.
  • Posting for 100 days in a row (more or less, trust me–people aren’t counting) will increase your visibility on Instagram and wherever else you post. More followers, potential clients or interesting projects have the potential to come your way because You. Showed. Up. Doing a consistent daily action and not sharing it is a valid way to grow as an artist, but if you want to be seem—or make money—you need to show it to the world.

So how do you start?

beginagainPick a date. Any date. Or join a group that is doing it together. The adorable folks at They Draw and Cook are starting one beginning April 19th. Go see them on Instagram to join the fun.

Pick your topic. Make it broad but specific (ha!). You might just share 100 Days of Sketches or 100 Days of Flowers or you can get more specific and do 100 Days of Wildflowers or 100 Days of Cupcakes—you get the idea. Pick something that you are pretty sure you can accomplish but not so narrow that by day 37 you are sick to death of it!.

Once I finish my 100 Days of Advice, I know what my next topic will be—it may kill me, but I won’t know until I try, right?

You can follow along with my #100DaysofAdvice—I am @ronniewalter on Instagram.

 

*It’s the only thing I learned to play. I apologize to my family. And the dog.