Good morning, Rebels, and welcome back to my life.
…maybe a lot of people…
…maybe even MOST people…
…really aren’t fond of the idea of personal responsibility.
In artists, this takes many forms.
Maybe a writer signed with a publisher, and they’re unhappy with how that publisher is promoting their book, or how the cover was designed, or how the publisher and a major retailer are engaged in a dispute that’s affecting the author’s sales.
These authors will complain about the publisher forever, but their book still isn’t selling.
Or maybe an author hasn’t finished a book and wonders endlessly WHAT they should write. Should they write in a popular genre, or something more literary? Should they start out by writing a lot of short stories, or go right in for a novel?
These authors will ask questions for eternity and never finish a book.
It’s very popular, and not just among artists, to place responsibility for one’s own life in the hands of other people.
It’s not hard to understand this impulse. After all, responsibility is often incorrectly associated with blame. And if you’re to blame for what’s going wrong with your art career, well that sucks, doesn’t it?
I’ve got a news flash for you. Responsibility and blame are not the same thing.
Blame faces backward in time. It says, “THIS happened and it’s YOUR fault!” Blame knocks people down. Blame makes you feel bad about yourself. Blame, shame, regret, three parts of the same package.
Responsibility is best summed up in a single sentence: “Here’s what I’m going to do.”
I’m going to self-publish. I’m going to write a new book and keep it away from that publisher. I’m going to just PICK a project and write it until it’s done.
Responsibility says, “Here are the circumstances, and here I am. Now what am I going to do about it?”
Responsibility looks at the present and the future and pays no attention to the past.
And as a result, people who assume full responsibility for themselves, wind up in CONTROL of the future.
I mean, this isn’t just a good attitude toward art and your artistic career, this is a good attitude to have about LIFE!
Sometimes your options are limited, yes. Sometimes you can’t do exactly what you want to do when you want to do it, and you can feel like you’re being held back.
But the wrong thing to do in that case is to blame other people for the situation. Even if they’re causing it, the mere act of blaming them doesn’t DO anything! There’s nothing you can accomplish!
So if you are being held back from what you’re trying to do, take even more responsibility.
Add to what you’re willing to take charge of. Say, “Not only am I going to finish that book, I’m going to build a readership by starting a blog!”
And always always always think long-term. Remember, responsibility looks forward. The further ahead you look, the more responsible you’re being. You can be a little bit responsible and plan for the next book, or you can be really responsible and plan for your whole career.
I slip up on this occasionally. I have a crappy sales month, or I get a bad review, or some project I was really excited about falls through. My own immediate tendency is to look for the person who did that to me. But the thing I constantly have to remind myself is, all of that time I spend looking for someone to blame and proving that they ARE to blame, is time I could be spending on another project, one that could actually succeed.
So keep this in mind. What are you going to do next? What is the next step you’re going to take?
And don’t worry about what’s already happened. Yesterday is yesterday. Tomorrow is as bright as you make it.