An ASBX blog post by guest blogger Wesley Broome. See her bio below, and stay tuned for Part Three. (Here’s Part One.)
In the early days of the pandemic, I tried to distract myself with any number of online art challenges, including the 100 Day Project. The premise of this challenge is to do one thing consistently for one hundred days, art-related or not. My goal was to create and post a drawing on Instagram each day. It was a lofty attempt at improving my craft while staving off the mind numbing oppression of the pandemic.
Twenty days into the 100 Day Project, my plan failed. I had become obsessed with the numbers. Why were some posts getting more feedback than others? The process of art making had become agonizing, and I rarely liked the results. A tiny voice somewhere in my mind was saying, “Wait, isn’t this supposed to be fun?”
It only occurred to me later why the process had become so miserable. Instead of focusing on my own enjoyment of the craft, I was too worried about making what I thought others wanted to see. This was a big mistake. It wasn’t fun anymore, which was a huge red flag that my approach was fundamentally wrong.
I began to ask myself what I would create if no one would see it but me. This shifted my entire perspective. When I thought of making art for an audience of one, I was more in alignment with what I actually wanted to make. Freed from outside influences, my true goals and desires became clearer. I was no longer letting the expectations of others dictate what I created.
Sometimes, we have to check our motivations behind making art. Do you do it because it comes pouring out of you no matter what? Or do the perceived notions of what is “good” or “popular” drive your work? We have to strike a balance between the two, remembering that our work is to fulfill an inner need. If our work is truthful, then it will resonate with others on a deep level.
In “So You Want to Be a Writer,” Charles Bukowski writes,
“if it doesn’t come bursting out of you
in spite of everything,
don’t do it.
unless it comes unasked out of your
heart and your mind and your mouth
and your gut,
don’t do it.”
When it’s time to share your work, you’ll be able to do it from a healthier, more secure place, knowing that you’ve already done your job by being true to yourself.
Wesley Broome is a writer, photographer, and filmmaker based in North Carolina. She is a graduate of the University of North Carolina School of the Arts, and received the Ella Fountain Pratt Emerging Artist Award for filmmaking in 2018. In between film gigs, she works as a freelance writer for publications across the Southeast.
More of her work can be found on her website: www.wesleybroome.com