Every time, every SINGLE time I write a poem and put it up on Facebook, the little gremlins in my mind start chattering about how worthless I am as a person.
Welcome to presenting your soul through art.
As a chain link in the artistic process, presentation is the last section and is one of the pieces never needed to finish your art! You could spend 20 years painting a beautiful picture and have it never be seen by another soul. The presentation of your art is not necessary. However, I would argue that it adds a new element to your work.
And that element is LOVE.
The presentation of a piece of art is tantamount to telling a friend about how emotionally unstable we have felt for our entire lives, the highs and lows of human experience, as well as what confusion and concrete understanding has been gleaned from our short journeys here. To share our art, our true expression, something we put our souls into, with another person is as equally revealing and beautiful.
Although that discovery is beautiful, one thing to remember is there is a potential for rejection. The thought of giving love without it being reciprocated is a fiery fear which sings dreadful lullabies to us as night and tucks us in sheets of worry.
But nonetheless, we artists put our souls out there. This takes courage and vulnerability. I’ve been contemplating this and offer a few tips to help emerging artists with their fears and worries about presenting themselves.
#1 It’s always a rough start, but the fear gets easier to manage.
The beginning of work in any field is a terrifyingly magical process! It blends together so many emotions into a neurological soup of chaos and excitement! I remember the first time I read poetry aloud at an open mic event and was terribly afraid. The hour-long process of wondering when my name was going to be drawn from the hat was as frightening as wondering if a tiger is going to break out of his cage and begin mauling you. But once I was called, I pushed myself on stage and began speaking as rapidly as possible, trying to blaze through my words and stutter as little as possible. After it was over, the clapping had began and I felt my heart open. All that fear turned into utter joy and excitement! I felt giddy, wondering when the next time was I would be able to read!
Fear is just love that must be transformed, so when we are afraid of presenting, remember that the other side is waiting to embrace us.
#2 What you think is “amazing,” others may never respond to.
For most artistic endeavors, there comes a lot of wavering in quality. Some pieces seem descended from God’s own lips while others look like a pile of dirt. The most difficult thing I have found is when I create a piece that I love – that really shakes me to my core – and when presented to others, I find they stare off into the nothingness, wondering when I will be done. That is the pain of rejection! The pangs of not being seen in the raw! It’s an ordeal of suffering I hope everyone no one would ever have to endure.
What I recommend is two fold, because this can be viewed in two lights. In one sense, you must be your own self-critic and ask yourself “Did the message I present come off muddy?” “Do I need to simplify my idea or express it in a different way?” or “Why is it my audience isn’t receiving this?” This internal examination of my work is good. No harm can come from a curious mind working towards self-improvement.
Now it’s also good to ask, “Is this piece presented to the RIGHT audience? Is it an amazing piece of work. Yet are viewed through eyes that cannot appreciate my creation.” Sometimes we have ideas that are deep, complex, unique, or unexplored, and often a beautiful gem like this will be disregarded as a useless stone.
Through this self-inquiry, you will gain some insight and be able to craft a new piece and present it to the right crowd so it’s well received, and most importantly, LOVED. There is also the possibility that you are the only person in the world who will deeply appreciate your creation, and that’s wonderful too!
When an event like this occurs, it’s good to laugh and acknowledge that whether you are appreciated or ignored often, you are never a failure unless you never try!
Which brings me to my third and final point…
#3 Keep creating, keep failing, keep growing.
Art is all about trying and exploring and moving yourself into unknowns, to strange territory where few had traveled before! In those places there is vast riches and unique treasures of the soul waiting to be found and shared with others. But this is no dandy walk in the park, as we may well know.
Nothing, I repeat, NOTHING AT ALL, comes to you easily if it is valuable! Keep pushing and grinding the gears away. Stay focused and confident in your pursuit! It takes a disciplined mind to become a master at anything. Tiger woods didn’t just wake up and win a PGA tour. He spent 20 years practicing! CS Lewis didn’t write the Chronicles of Narnia overnight, he spent years crafting a masterpiece! And you, you brilliant little being of expression, must put in the work needed to grow to your potential!
Yes there are tips and tricks to get the juices flowing, but I have found that dedication to a craft is one of the most important tools. One of my favorite books on creativity is by Steven Pressfield and it’s called The War of Art. This short book will help you discover the passion and a fire which will ignite your creative potential.
Follow these tips when you feel fearful of authentic expression. Move confidently and swiftly towards your masterpiece. Lastly, remember that your attempt is the greatest thing you can do, regardless of outcome.
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