grab bag blog

This is where I talk about my work, my discoveries, my creative process, and the ins and outs of marketing in the arts.

Giving Back: Make Up Your Mind

March 27, 2012

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This is the third of five posts on the topics of my presentation at New Hope Academy’s Ask An Expert Day. Check them all out here!

#3. Embrace Decision Making

The act of creation require decision making. Where does your first mark land on the empty sheet of paper? What is your base color for this painting? What is the first word of your novel?

Ice cream or cookies?

If you are creating something for yourself, these decisions can seem minor. Which vegetable in my fridge will be the basis for tonight’s dinner? Worlds will not crumble if you choose radishes instead of sweet potatoes. But choosing the wrong paper stock or ink color can have financial repercussions for your client. Choosing a logo that will represent a company to hundred of thousands or millions of people is some serious weight on your shoulders. People are hiring you to make these artistic decisions.

That’s why you must become comfortable with making decisions in your life.

One of the most important lessons an actor learns is to make bold decisions in rehearsal. Don’t know how to act on a certain line? Trying weaping hysterically, or laughing out loud, or jumping straight up in the air! Try sitting absolutely still. Whatever you do, make a decision and commit to it as strongly as you can. It may be the wrong decision, but you will never know if it’s wrong if you don’t commit to trying it as fully as possible. And once you’ve discovered something that’s wrong, you have eliminated one fork on the road to what’s right.

This trial-and-error method is nothing to be ashamed of—scientists use it all the time! The difference is that we’re not used to seeing an artist’s failed attempts. A film actor’s bad takes get cut out of the movie. A painter’s bad color choices get painted over and never hung in a gallery. But every artist makes mistakes—and they should be bold and glorious mistakes! Once you have made the difficult decision to energetically try something different, be equally as willing to proclaim to the world that it is wrong, but you intend to try again. Better to have produced 100 logo concepts that miss the mark and three that are absolutely spot-on than to have stopped after the first five pretty good ones. Better to throw away the first 100 pages of your novel than to submit something that’s not up to par.

It is alright to make mistakes as long as you are willing to see them for what they are and make changes. There is no problem with your life moving in a less fortuitous direction as long as you are willing to make course corrections. But if you spend too long trying to map out your course, or are unwilling to decide on a direction, then the sun will set before you ever take your first step.


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