You ever wonder how successful creative people managed to get to where they are now? You might think they must have tremendous stores of creativity, that us mere mortals can’t even begin to hope to see in our own lives. They must never get tired of creating, never run out of inspiration and ideas, and always finish whatever masterpiece they dream up and start.
Us mere mortals? Well, we’re often tired from the day’s mundane jobs, have to scramble for the tiniest creative spark, and struggle to complete little projects.
What if I tell you that the secrets to having a successful creative life aren’t really all that secret? Or that us mere mortals can aspire to crafting a creative life for ourselves?
A few weeks ago, I was at a conference, one which was populated by creative types at various stages of their journeys to success. One of the speakers shared something which will now hold a permanent place in my daily reminders to myself. My only regret is that I didn’t write down who it was who uttered this statement. Here it is:
The three components of a successful creative life are work, courage and luck.
That’s it. No pixie dust. No extraordinarily large helpings of talent required. No mention of an endless magical well of inspiration to draw from. Come to think of it, inspiration is not even in the sentence above. All it takes to achieve success in pursuing a creative life is hard work, sufficient doses of courage, and the occasional lucky break.
You know what’s great about these three things? They’re not beyond the reach of mere mortals like you and me.
Hard work pays off
Hard work, or what’s known in writer’s circles as BIC (butt in chair), is something we can all do. We all have the capacity to plant our behind in our work chair (or grab a paintbrush, or a paper trimmer as the case may be). We can sweat it out, put in the hours, work our fingers to the bone if need be. See the beauty in this? Hard work will get us where we want to be.
Courage leads us on
There will always be days that will seem long and fruitless, and totally devoid of success. You know what gets successful creatives through those days?
It’s the conviction that there will be better times ahead, that the hard work will pay off, that success is just around the corner. That is called courage. It’s courage when we take up our paintbrushes again, type one more page of that draft, or attempt to start a scrapbook album when there is no inspiration in sight. It’s courage when we forge ahead when all our ideas seem dull and old, when we face rejection or even ridicule. Every successful creative person has faced obstacles in their journeys, and somehow, found the courage to move forward and do what needed to be done.
Luck opens doors
Of the three components, luck is perhaps the one that may be considered random or based on chance. Dictionary.com defines luck as “a combination of circumstances, events, etc., operating by chance to bring good or ill to a person.”
I will grant that there is a modicum of chance involved here. But I don’t believe that this component is all completely random or by chance. I want to focus on the words “circumstances” and “events” that contribute toward luck. These are things we have control over. If we seek out those circumstances and events that have greater chances of presenting us with lucky breaks, then by definition, we’ll increase our luck.
Luck may mean being at the right place at the right time. So if we’re at the right place most of the time, we’ll have a greater chance of being there when the right time rolls around. What this means is that we should seek out our own opportunities for success. Practically speaking, we need to spend time with fellow creative types, develop relationships, and simply get out there.
Being successful as a creative person isn’t easy. But it is attainable.
Do you want to be successful in your creative endeavors? Work hard, be courageous and believe in yourself, and cultivate opportunities where you can use your talent, and build toward your goal.
I would love to hear about your own creative journey. Let us know how one or all of these three components are helping you find success as a creative individual.