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Our Art

Audio Version (featuring music by Sergii Pavkin)

Like me, this blog, my place for exploring all things philosophical, spiritual, musical, and creative, is always changing. Since May 2015, when I decided to start over, I’ve been writing and sharing stories, articles, and essays on a regular basis.

Over the last twenty years or so, I’ve been discovering and distilling my voice, so to speak, as I broadened the scope of the content to include my thoughts and opinions on topics other than music. I’m still honing that voice, and I suspect I will be for the rest of my life. Temet nosce.

This post was originally inspired by reading Hugh Howey’s blog. I had never heard of him before. Austin Kleon shared this article, which was then shared in part by Nathalie at Mentorless, who sends out a weekly newsletter, through which I discovered Hugh. Isn’t it wonderful that with just a few clicks or taps, learners, researchers, and creatives can access a wealth of incredible information.

Hugh’s advice is applicable to almost any endeavor. Particularly in the arts. Our art, which is most likely our passion or calling, necessitates obsession and deep commitment, lest we succumb to the plethora of distractions and fleeting, superficial pleasures that render our spirits dysfunctional and forever empty. Beyond that, we must treat our lives as if they were businesses, which adds another layer of pressure, but one that may mature and define our character. I’ve certainly made many excuses over the years. All it does is poke holes in my heart. And yet, remembering that how we do anything is how we do everything can be illuminating.

I enjoy walking, or hiking, usually averaging five to fifteen kilometers per day, or one to three hours, depending on the location and weather. It’s rare to miss a day, unless there’s a sideways blizzard that makes it difficult for the snowplow to see me. It’s a fantastic way to experience each season at a pace you’d never appreciate while driving. Road trips, however, are also fantastic and critical to a well-lived life.

I daydream while walking, even when I’m listening to an audiobook. Conversations (and arguments), scenes, camera angles, insights, intuitions, and revelations all appear at varying moments. It’s great to have tools and apps that allow me to jot down fragments until I get to pen and paper.

We can be overwhelmed by the stress of rigmarole and information overload. It is critical to allow time for silence in order to process, integrate, and examine perspectives. We learn a lot about ourselves when we listen.

It unfolds as we walk through life. Whether you’re alone or with a loved one, the story is constantly evolving and as expansive as a deep breath. Inhale and exhale; ebb and flow. Live in the moment and let go.

Khara Woods – Unsplash

Howey writes:

3) Practice. Everyone wants to write a novel, and they want to do it without stretching. You don’t lace up and run a marathon without first learning to run a mile, two miles, five miles. The day you implement your plan is the day you start reading and the day you start writing. Start a blog and post to it every day. It might be a single line from a story that doesn’t yet exist. Or a scene—maybe a first kiss or a bar fight. Maybe you write a different first kiss scene every day for a month. This is like practicing your layups. So when you have to nail one in a game, you don’t freak out and go flying into the stands. The importance of a blog is that your posts remain up and visible forever. Facebook will hide and destroy your content. Cross-post to Twitter and Facebook if you like, but the blog is your hub. This is your street corner. This is where you strum your instrument and improve.

Our art deserves our focus and discipline. This is unique to each individual, but the work serves only to hone skills and stabilize neural pathways, allowing us to free up energy when ideas and inspirations strike. We fight the mechanism much less when the training and repeated failures are behind us. We can dance with effortless fluidity once we learn to trust our feet.

More from Howey:

10) Find your voice. I put this last because it’s the hardest, will take the longest, but may be the most important thing you ever do as a writer. What the hell is your voice? It’s how you write when you aren’t aware that you’re writing. Everything else you do is mimicry. Self-awareness is the enemy of voice. When you fire off an email to your mom or best friend, you are writing in your voice. When you blog, you will begin to find your voice. Your voice will change the more you read and the more you write. That’s normal. It’s still your voice.

Craft your learning, and learn your craft. The time we devote to creating is precious, so surround yourself with people who instill, inspire, challenge, and affirm your love for your journey, and be patient with the process.

But never stop expressing and creating your art.

Love your life.