5 Ways To Find Artistic Courage
By Johnny Dwinell
[kur-ij, kuhr-] Show IPA
1. the quality of mind or spirit that enables a person to face difficulty, danger, pain, etc., without fear; bravery.
I wholeheartedly disagree with this definition of courage that I pulled from Dictionary.com. I know I am quite courageous; however I have never been without fear. I have never taken a huge risk in any aspect of my life, whether it be business-wise or artistically, without some level of fear. What I chose to rely on was my gut instinct, some intelligence on the risk factor (aka a plan of some sort), and my ability to execute job requirements needed to move forward; but never fearlessness. I also know for a fact that every brave act, if articulated honestly by the doer, was not without fear, there was some greater cause or duty that had to be done that overrode the “Fight or Flight” mechanism of the Reptilian part of our brain. Therefore, I would redefine courage (and artistic courage) as the bravery or ability to move forward and experience difficulty, danger, pain, etc., in the face of fear.
Courage is simply mission-critical for any artist; I just don’t see how any art can be created and ultimately shared without some level of artistic courage. The first sign of artistic courage presents itself when we first get onstage in front of people; we are absolutely vulnerable at that moment. We are courageous when we let anyone listen to our songs as they are our thoughts, feelings, secrets, our TRUTH; again we are vulnerable. We are quite vulnerable in the face of some kind of perceived judgment on our songs and/or lyrics by critics, or industry professionals. Some artists deal with this necessity for courage well, and some suffer incredibly every time they need to be courageous, but they still show up. The artists we know and admire must be courageous otherwise we simply wouldn’t know about them, right?
I think, to a degree, we are all capable of artistic courage but some of us need a little support and momentum to begin really believing; in ourselves, which will ultimately be interpreted in our art. I truly believe that winners, to be successful, MUST read because knowledge is power; so empower yourself.
Here are 5 ways to jump-start your artistic journey and build up a little more courage, by reading them and then considering some different perspectives on life, work, and the huge undertaking of our artistic efforts. If you ask around your inner circles, you will probably be able to get your hands on most of these. If you can’t, I have included links to Amazon so you can get started right away.
“The Artist’s Way: A Spiritual Guide To Higher Creativity” by Julia Cameron–
This is a book, actually a program of sorts, and when you purchase it you must also get a blank journal; all total about a $25 investment. When it was presented to me, I was told, “Don’t start this until you can commit to the whole program of 12-weeks”. It was one of the most amazing journeys of my life. It requires about 1 hour a day where you write your “morning pages”. This exercise of writing 3 pages per day essentially teaches you to “get out of your own way” artistically and shut off the censorship component that we all have inside of us. I LOVE this book and require every one of our artists to read/participate in it. Every writer here in town has gone through this program and they all speak highly of the experience. You can purchase this book in any big retailer like Barnes & Noble as they usually have them in stock; it’s pretty popular. I have provided a link HERE to get it online. Remember, get the blank journal too!
“The Craft of Lyric Writing” by Sheila Davis –
This book was recommended to me by a friend back in 1995 who is now a serious hit songwriter. Again, this book is revered by so many top writers it should be issued to any aspiring songwriter/artist; and YES Kelly and I require all our artists to read it. I remember finishing this book and completing about 20 or so songs that had been “on the shelf” so-to-speak. I had been shoving “10 pounds of sand into 5 pound bags” because I was trying to add sections to these songs where the structure didn’t require these sections. Once I learned about all the different kinds of song structures, it was like an epiphany of sorts. BOOM! They all got finished. I hope you have a similar experience. This book isn’t as popular as The Artist’s Way so it typically isn’t stocked in the bookstores. I recommend purchasing it online. You can get it HERE total investment is about $18.00
“The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People: Powerful Lessons in Personal Change” by Steven R. Covey –
This book has been a best seller for decades. It was published originally in 1989 and has sold over 15 million copies; because it will change your life! Think of this book as a tool box for learning how to take care of business and stop procrastinating; then apply these lessons to your artistic endeavors. HERE is the Amazon.com link. Investment ranging from $3-$7. Book retailers will almost always have a copy in stock as well.
“Think and Grow Rich” by Napoleon Hill –
This is NOT a book about getting “rich” per se. Napoleon Hill was commissioned to write this book by steel tycoon Andrew Carnegie back in 1908; it was subsequently published in 1937; that was a 29-year research and writing project. Andrew Carnegie granted Napoleon Hill access to hugely successful business men like himself, Henry Ford, J.P. Morgan, John D. Rockefeller, etc. to find out if there were similar traits that made these people more successful than others; and as it turns out there were. This book is about eliminating negative energy, honoring your imagination, positive thinking, persistence, and several other common traits that contribute to success no matter what your line of work is. This was an amazing read that is just as relevant today as it was when it was originally published 76 years ago. You should probably be able to pick this up just about anywhere. HERE is the Amazon.com link. Total investment $9.67
“The Power of Positive Thinking” – by Norman Vincent Peale
– Best quote: “Action is a great restorer and builder of confidence. Inaction is not only the result, but the cause, of fear. Perhaps the action you take will be successful; perhaps different action or adjustments will have to follow. But any action is better than no action at all.” I think that about sums this book up, don’t you? My translation you may recognize, creativity is like cooking pasta, throw the spaghetti against the wall, if it don’t stick, KEEP COOKING! HERE is the Amazon.com link brand new paperback for $7.47
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