Wednesday, July 20, 2011

Constant Optimism Generators

Continuing on my thoughts from yesterday's blog, I don't think there's a solution to Artists’ Depression. It’s not preventable. It's just part of the job. Eric Maisel and I agree on that. We disagree on the cause. We also agree that a good question is how to minimize your time in depression and get back to making art. But to do this, we need to have a better sense of why we're depressed. In yesterday's blog I proposed it's because artists are faced with failure more than any other profession. But there's something else at work alongside that. Just as an audience must willingly suspend their disbelief to enjoy a play artists must suspend their beliefWe must suspend our belief that what we’re making isn’t any good, our belief that once again we won’t find a buyer, and our belief that no one will devour our work and say, “Thanks for making that. It made a difference.” Unlike Maisel, I don’t think of artists as being more depressed than other people. It’s quite the opposite. We must be stupidly optimistic just to continue on. 

Regular people go to work and get pay checks. They require no optimism at the end of the week in regard to whether they’ll get paid or whether they'll return to work. Regular people know what they should do in their jobs and their measure is simply do they do it well and perhaps with enthusiasm. Artists have no such secure world. There’s no promise that if we do our work and do it well we’ll get rewarded in ANY capacity. In fact, most of us have a lot of proof we won’t rewarded in way we desire no matter what. Because of that we must erase all past failures from our mind every time we take up the pen. To be a functioning artist is one of the boldest and hugest acts of optimism exercised on a daily basis. And that also means we’re more crushed when things don’t work out the way we hoped they would.
So if we're so optimistic, why are artists more prone to depression? I think we just run out of optimism. Why? Because our profession demands so much of it. We are more optimistic than most folks, but our supply doesn't meet demand all the time. And when we hit empty we hit it hard, because few professions in the world require the amount of optimism it takes to be an artist.
With that in mind, let’s reframe the conversation: Isn’t it amazing how optimistic artists are every single day? How do they do it? 
How do you do it? And what are you optimistic about?

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