Creatives and Commitment

“Creatives” – those of us with an artistic or creative bent, often find that our artistic interests lie in a number of different fields—visual arts, music, writing, crafts, invention, and more.  Our problems often lie not in a lack of interests or abilities but in an overabundance of them.  Our time and energy can become so fragmented as we attempt to follow such a wide range of pursuits that we don’t fully commit ourselves to any.

But, however creative we may be, without commitment and focused effort, how can we excel?

I’ve found that when my own attention is cast in too many different directions, shotgun style, I can’t home in on a single area to try to master.  I am often faced with some hard choices about which to set aside.  I need to determine where my primary field of interest lies at any given time, and therefore where I need to concentrate my most intensive focus.  Once I do that, it becomes easier to cull out the less important or less productive pursuits that drain my time and energy or distract me from seeking mastery in that primary area.  Painful as it often is, I need to conscientiously say “No!” when tempted to head off on yet another artistic or creative tangent.

I’ve had to do precisely that this summer, having come to the painful realization that one pursuit, which I thoroughly enjoyed, was demanding a disproportionate amount of time and energy and had been distracting me from what I consider my primary pursuit.

Certainly it’s possible to pursue and attain a high level of skill in more than one creative field. We have many examples before us of creative people who have excelled in multiple areas of expertise. But we need to know ourselves well enough to recognize our limitations and how many fields we can realistically expect to master within a given time frame.  Also, we can rarely reach mastery in two different fields simultaneously, but are more likely to master them at different periods in our lifetime, allowing ourselves time and focus to develop separate skill sets specific to each field.

Perhaps we may be satisfied with mastering one or two fields and be “just good enough” for personal satisfaction and general enjoyment in other areas.  That’s ok, too, … so long as  “just good enough” in too many areas doesn’t interfere with striving for excellence in even one.  If it does, it may be time to evaluate our self-image and personal goals (“Am I willing to remain mediocre because I feel that I’m nothing special, or because I don’t want to stand out in the crowd or become famous, or because I don’t want to work that hard, or because I can’t afford the time or cost of further training, or because I’m giving [X] higher priority right now?”)  We may have valid reasons for settling for mediocrity in some areas.  Or these “reasons” may just be excuses—conscious or unconscious—to justify neglecting our innate talents.  We often walk a fine line in that regard, so we need to be honest with ourselves.

I think it’s important to acknowledge what our own individual bent is (which is not the same as a talent we may envy in someone else and wish we shared), and to concentrate on that, committing to hone our understanding and related skills in that/those limited area[s].  Then we’re more likely to get somewhere noteworthy.

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