Devin Brooks

Pursuing a career in the creative fields is tough.

Since art is pretty freaking subjective, many people will probably ignore your talent and your work right off the bat. Trends come and go with the blink of an eye, and what may seem like your original idea could make someone else famous five seconds before you had a chance.

This isn't meant to dishearten you. This is fact for creative people. I spent two and a half years in New York City pursuing acting while I developed the courage to start writing again. Before that I spent an additional three years training and auditioning for school and local projects.

I got more road-blocks and embarrassment than success. Nothing like five years of effort to realize that you've got to be in the creative business for yourself and your work, not for money or a pat on the back.

Still, I'm glad I had these experiences. Without them, I wouldn't have understood the commitment I was making when I settled on writing.

Here's four tough truths I learned so far from my time pursuing creative adventures. I talk mostly of artistic creativity because that's what I know, but these could be applied to any areas of the creative fields:


1. You're not special

It seems like some famous creatives, especially actors, rise out of nowhere, picked by some magic, wealth-granting fairy in Hollywood.

I will admit: sometimes, sometimes, people get picked immediately. Don't bank on this. No matter what creative field, most people earn their way by rigorous training and more rejections than they can count.

Try it out. Pick a few celebrities that you admire and look up their profiles on IMdb. You may find that rare one who caught a casting director's eye and happened to be able to act all right, but most of them I guarantee have been training and performing for a long time (a lot have been acting since childhood). 

It takes persistence. You may have been working at it for years. You may think you've worked harder than anyone, than you've got more talent in you pinky finger than anyone out there, but guess what? A million other people think that about themselves.

It's important to have perspective. There's nothing that gives you the right to a magical skip pass, even if you've already got connections. Keep going, and when you're ready to give up, still keep going. Your moment is coming, but it's not magic. It takes time.

If you're feeling discouraged about the work you've put in, believe me, you are not alone. Make sure you have a great support system, sources of inspiration, and other personal forms of encouragement to keep the fire burning. 


2. it's all been done before

I find this anxiety especially true when I'm writing. We want to be original, unique, fresh. Unfortunately, it's all been done before.

The solution? There are a finite number of stories in the world, but there are an infinite number of ways to tell them. The young love story has been told probably since the beginning of human existence (maybe). But you've got a way to tell that same story from your point-of-view and your experiences. That's what makes it fresh.

Be at peace with the fact that you probably can't come up with something that's so original no one has ever seen it before (I say probably, because I've learned never to say never. Miracles do happen).

Your talent should be used to bring together specifics within a creative project's archetype that have yet to be experienced.


3. Luck is born from hard work

You've got to work. Hard. 

There is no cheat code. I'd even go so far as to say that luck doesn't really exist. Sure, sometimes things seem to fall into place just the way we want them, but I think they happen as a consequence of a myriad of events that unfold behind your back because of the actions you've taken to reach your goals.

Just take it from Ralph Waldo Emerson:

Shallow men believe in luck. Strong men believe in cause and effect.
— Ralph Waldo Emerson

I've found that whenever I've experienced "luck", it seems to fall in line with the mountain of preparation I was doing for an opportunity I didn't yet know I would have.

You've got to work hard for your luck. Train. Work at your craft. Refine it. Improve everyday. Reach for new connections and moments to share your work.

Here's a formula: your hard work plus opportunity plus willingness to meet opportunity equals luck. Go get your luck.


4. Fame and fortune are not guaranteed 

I'm not going to lie: I have fantasies of making so much off of my work that I can lounge on some beautiful private beach on the regular. Don't we all have our own dreams of external and material success?

Be weary of falling in love with these visions: not everyone gets fame and fortune. In fact, most don't get the movie deals and book contracts or art exhibits they dream of.

This isn't to say you won't be successful as a creative. Of course you will, but learn to set realistic expectations. More importantly, don't pursue creativity for the sake of money and validation. 

That's not why you create art. You do it because it brings you so much joy and so much passion that you've got to share. It's perfectly reasonable to expect to make a living (why else would you be starting a business?), but the fame and fortune should be a pleasant side effect, not the ultimate end-goal.


Do you agree with these hard truths? Let me know in the comments below.



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