Have you stopped to consider where you are in your story?
To understand where you are in your story as an artist, it's critical to know what a story is and the key elements for what makes a great story.
A story is a character who wants something and overcomes tremendous obstacles to get it.
As a writer and lover of the craft, not only do I love writing...one of my favorite things to do is to read books on writing.
Reading great books and books on writing is the best way I know how to throw more tools in my tool chest. I am a student of story.
To understand story, start with the Book of Genesis, then move on to Aristotle, Joseph Campbell, Robert McKee, Christopher Vogler, Blake Snyder and Stephen Pressfield.
All of them describe the mythic nature of story as one man, one woman who wants something and overcomes tremendous conflict, problems, challenges—yes, obstacles — to get it.
Let's break this down to find out where you are in your story...
First, you are a key character in God's Story. This begs the question, "Who are you?"
Who are you as a person? A child of God? An artist?
Second, you are a character who wants something. What do you want?
"What do I want?" just may be one of the most important spiritual questions you ever ask yourself. What you want will determine your choices, focus, energy and efforts.
Third, for whatever you want, you will have to overcome great obstacles to get it.
Sorry, no free lunches here. If there's no struggle, conflict or if everything is easey-peasey, you have to ask yourself, "Am I setting my sights too low?"
For me, the past fourth months of my life has been the most physically, spiritually and emotionally challenging periods of my life. EVER.
On April 9, I blew out my appendix, leading to a 12 day hospital stay. It wasn't just a "ruptured appendix." My doctor called it a "severely ruptured appendix...the Top 5 Worst I've seen in over 8,000 appendectomies I've performed."
12 days in the pain cave.
To put it politely, I got my ass kicked.
I'll spare you the details about the gangrene and toxicity. All said, it's been a long, slow recovery filled with setbacks (read obstacles). I was in the middle of writing my novel. Shelved the book for two whole months because I could hardly sit up straight.
Now, I know comparisons aren't useful nor helpful, but what are your obstacles? In your art making, what conflicts and obstacles are you facing? How are you overcoming tremendous obstacles to get what you want?
Last, what are you doing to get after what you want? How are you getting after IT?
Spend time with this question. It will reveal where you spend your energy and effort.
You may not have the luxury of being a full-time artist. You may be a single mom or dad trying to make ends meet for your family. You may only have ten minutes in your day to craft a few lines of a song, a poem, or a story. You may be facing physical challenges and have to lay down your work for a season like I had to.
In the simplest terms, getting after it means doing the work. Doing your art is the only thing that leads to completed work. There is great power in completed work, regardless of the outcome. You will know you completed what you set out to do.
Remember, a story is a character who wants something and overcomes tremendous obstacles to get it.
Helping artists get after what they really want is why we created the Cultivated Artist Experience. As artists ourselves, we know the tremendous obstacles you face. We know all about the setbacks, inner and outer conflicts, creative and financial obstacles.
As an artist, the Cultivated Artist Experience is designed to help you...
You'll do this in community with other artists through three CAE retreats. At the end of it all next May, we'll celebrate with a big party called the Cultivated Artist Showcase.
Don't take my word for it. Listen to what the artists say about the Cultivated Artist Experience. Listen to their stories.
In listening to other people's stories, I find myself circling back to my own.
People are watching your story and mine. Let's get after it!
I'd love your thoughts and comments!
How do you see your story in God's story? What do you want? What obstacles (large or small) are you overcoming this week? What are you getting after in your art?