Some people in the world of entertainment say you’re only as good as your latest project. While that may be true depending on the circles you’re in, it’s not valuable in the life of an artist to think that way. The industry may be hungry for the newest, best and brightest, but as writers, we’re better off cherishing all our efforts. That’s the key to a steady sense of self-esteem and pride in your work.
Let the tabloids and the paparazzi celebrate the artistic news of the day. You can celebrate your artistic life – all of it – in an ongoing way.
But why is that useful?
Every writer has moments of struggle and doubt. There may be a difficult day in the writers’ room on a show – or a tough period while developing a piece of work. There will undoubtedly be the “no thank yous” from producers, agents or jobs. Even a writers group may turn you down. And then what? If you’re used to judging your entire career by what’s happening now, you’re “now” may leave you feeling pretty crappy.
That’s a short sided view. The truth is, you’ve been creating dynamic, interesting, powerful work for some time. This is true whether you’ve won a ton of awards or no awards. If you’ve created anything, that effort, that time, that experience is worth remembering. In the difficult moments, you may be the only one who has the power to recall those past triumphs. And that’s your job – to transform the moment – to shift your mood. So do it.
Ask yourself “What have I done?” – You can make a simple list of your creations. You can write a bio. You can read your resume. If you have a website, go back and look it over – see the posts or the paragraphs about your artistic accomplishments. Luxuriate in them. If you don’t have a website – make one.
I can’t tell you how useful it’s been to list my creative projects privately and publicly – and to see them listed. Before I had a website, I used to think of myself as scattered, busy, aimless. Yes, there was some art in there, but the chaos reigned. When I put all the info in one place – when I saw, remembered how much I’d done – I finally understood the value – the impact of all that work. My brain wanted me to think my worth depended on what was happening in the moment. But this reminded me of who I’ve been all along. My history and my creative legacy was a gift that changed the way I looked at myself as an artist. The change was profound.
In advance of the next difficult artist-moment, take the time right now to answer the question. And to celebrate the answer.
What have you done?
List the artistic, crazy, experimental, joyous things. Soak in the accomplishments.
And then, let me know how it feels.