The Myth of the “Aspiring” Artist

I like to watch interviews with writers, actors, and other people in the arts. I find them fascinating and very educational. One of the things I find interesting is when they have a Q&A with the audience after their initial interview or talk. At the end, there’s usually an audience member who says, “I’m an aspiring writer” or “I’m an aspiring actor/actress.” This has always been a curiosity to me.

The word “aspire” or “aspiring,” according to the Merriam-Webster Dictionary, means “desiring and working to achieve a particular goal: having aspirations to attain a specified profession, position, etc.” I would like to change the thinking about labeling oneself as an “aspiring artist” and show you that the act of creating is not, in fact, what you are aspiring to achieve.

Are You Doing It?

If you are writing, acting, painting, sculpting, writing music, or pursuing any other endeavor, you have moved out of the aspirational category and are now actively doing that particular activity.  If you’re aspiring to write, why?  What’s preventing you from taking those steps toward writing a story, a poem, a play, or a song?  

Nothing.

When we put the word “aspiring” in front of the creative activity we wish to do, there’s the perception that it lends importance to what we want to do.  I don’t believe it does.  If you can do it, don’t dream about doing it, do it.  If you are doing it, you no longer aspire to do the activity because you are actually doing it.

Working Toward an Artistic Goal

If you have mapped out plans to write a novel or a play, are working on an album, or are working on writing and shooting a short film, these are goals within the creative realm you inhabit.  But, again, you are working toward these goals, not just thinking or hoping for them to happen on their own.  

What You Really Might Want…

The truth is that we don’t aspire to be a writer, an actor/actress, a painter, or a musician.  Our aspiration lies beyond that. It lies in our aspirations for success, money, and the ability to quit our day jobs and create full time.  This is what we want.  This is what we aspire toward.

But this should be secondary in your overarching aspirational plan.  Why?

Putting in the time, work, effort, energy, sweat, tears, frustration, excitement, and other emotions that come with creating makes you better at the art you are doing.  Your drive to create should be your focus when you’re starting out.  

Art should be your motivation, not money or fame.

Success is a byproduct of all the time you’ve spent honing your craft on your own, at home, for free.  It’s these thousands of hours of hard work that can eventually get you to where you aspire to be.  

But you have to do the work.

Final Thoughts

Aspiring toward something positive involving your art is excellent, but it should be something you can’t quickly achieve in the present.  You can write right now.  You can paint right now.  You can be creative right now.  It’s the steps after the hard work of creation are done that we aspire to: the published novel, the produced play, the award-winning poem.  

Everyone dreams of some level of success.  But the first step to getting there is to stop dreaming about it and start doing it.

You can do it!

See you next week!

Definition source: https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/aspiring

Leave a Reply