Fail, fail, fail, fail, succeed

Do The Work Part 1

Perhaps no other artist could serve as the poster boy for “Do the work” than Woody Allen. There are two sides to that coin, but no one can look at the sheer amount of art he created over his lifetime and not be a little awestruck. He has directed 54 movies in the last 51 years and written 77 – and he shows no sign of stopping.

The ying and yang of this phenomenon is this: On the one hand, by constantly creating you are allowing yourself to develop and possibly create some masterpieces. On the other, you will certainly create a lot of stuff that’s varying degrees of cool along with a few embarrassing stinkers. Note: They can’t all be winners. But there are so many important lessons to be learned here…

Lesson 1: You’ve got to be comfortable with failing. This is very, very hard. So hard it’s probably the main reason why more artists don’t do it.

Lesson 2: You must literally “do the work” in the sense of not waiting for inspiration. This is also bewilderingly difficult. When you sit down to create and realize nothing seems to be happening, you are suddenly face to face with a very uncomfortable situation. What do you do? You either shit or get off the pot, that’s what. Fight or flight…

Lesson 3: You learn that you are not your work. Its success or failure has no reflection on your own sense of  self worth. As an artist, this is a tough one. After all, you are expressing yourself through your art, right? So if it’s not good, that means you’re not good too, doesn’t it? The difficult to grasp but emphatic truth is no, that’s not what it means. What it means is that you are in a process of becoming. You are growing and getting better, and the harsh reality is that to do that, you must fail and fail again.