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Why Are You Doing This?

Why are you making things? If you’re saying it’s for pure artistic expression, I will look at you with a raised eyebrow. No one makes art purely for art’s sake. Some may say that, but those who do are very talented at denial.

You may have high-minded motives you ascribe to your art making — changing the world, making more beauty in an ugly place, blah blah blah. I like to say that I believe that music is therapy by proxy, and that by sharing my honest expressions I hope to help my listeners be more honest themselves. It’s a nice idea, and maybe it’s partially true. But I very rarely live up to this ideal. Really, I make art to process my own emotions and to make others listen to my interpretations of reality. That is my authentic, selfish truth.

Maybe you create because you feel misunderstood. Maybe you got into it to impress the object of your affection. Maybe you do it to spite your parents. Maybe you’re trying to scratch an itch of discontentment that won’t go away. Maybe art is a receptacle for your anxiety. Maybe you think your ideas are better than other people’s. Maybe you’re it this for fame, or money, or accolades. Maybe you use art to build yourself a soapbox. Maybe you’re bored.

Whatever your honest, selfish motivation, I urge you to get to the root of it. and rather than try to alter your ugly motivation, or cover it up with something more politically correct, I encourage you to embrace it. Because if you can’t accept the reason why you’re making your art, you’re going to spend a significant portion of your creative energy beating yourself up for not being the angelic creature you’d like to be. So you can be a tortured artist who gets nothing done, or a radically honest one who lives by self-acceptance.

And if you can embrace your selfish motivations, maybe you’ll accomplish some of your high-minded goals by accident.

Published in Inspiration

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