The longer I live the more I discover and appreciate the wisdom of valuing the process over the results, and thinking of success in terms of forward momentum rather than a metric. Creating or building anything of lasting value requires a mindset that celebrates the hard work before the flower blooms, and in a world that is obsessed with instant gratification, this is hard to do or sustain.
But there are no shortcuts or hacks here, aside from what many will tell you, and sell you. The creative domain is one of quantity over quality, and all great artists, inventors, and thinkers were and continue to be prolific by necessity.
The fastest way I know of to learn fast, whether that be music, or photography, or painting, is to fail often. But failing is no fun. It hurts, it’s deeply frustrating, and it can deplete your self-confidence faster than anything else by a long shot.
I’ve wanted to quit at all of my creative endeavors at some point or another, and recently I’ve wondered if I’m deluding myself by believing I can become proficient as a painter. But one thing I’ve learned as a photographer is that the results are not the reward.
The reward is knowing you’re committed to your path even when you’re not sure you are going in the right direction. It’s perseverance in the absence of guarantees that distinguishes those we admire as artists and human beings. They have enough confidence to keep going when it seems futile.
Unfortunately, the one thing that can’t be taught is confidence—the confidence to believe in your creative vision. Once you lose that it’s all over. But if you can build and maintain that confidence, regardless of the temporary outcomes, you are on the only path that leads to the greatest reward: meaningful artistic expression.
So if you get discouraged, as I have so many times, keep going. It’s a cliche, but it’s true, and that’s all that matters.