First, we need to take a step back. Motivation drives a deadline. So why are you “doing” art? Some say the audience is irrelevant. It’s possible to make art because it brings me joy or relieves stress, or for no reason at all. This individual is in the minority. I make art to show it off! And this isn’t as negative as it sounds. I’m not talking about art as a pure means to an end but what’s the fun in an unheard song or an unseen picture? For me, regardless of vocational motivation, the joy of sharing what I create with others is a significant driving factor for what I do - and this is okay.
So with that in mind, let me introduce you to man’s greatest adversary - laziness! Let’s be honest, we all deal with it. Focus and hard work aren’t natural for most people. If left to my own device, I’d probably sleep in late, start many projects, finish few, and gravitate towards the path of least resistance. Even if my end goal is noble it’s rarely enough.
I meet a lot of artists who have big dreams. Their minds are filled with project after project. They can vividly describe the details of the songs they’re going to write and/or shows their going to produce. Most fail to follow through. Why?
Back to the beginning! Set a deadline!
When I started Cosmonaught, we booked our first show before we wrote our first song. This is because I knew then what I know now. Deadlines are the greatest catalyst for artistic action. As the deadline loomed, we pulled together three songs and played them the best we could and never looked back.
I often hear in response to my philosophy on deadlines “but what if I’m not ready?” Three thoughts:
- What is “ready”? Artists are so obsessed with being “perfect” that they refuse to ever release anything they do. They endlessly perfect their material and never dare to show their work to the world. Yes, strive for artistic excellence, but there comes a time when you need to go for it. Good art is not necessarily perfect, but authentic and genuine, and if people see that, they will give you grace as you grow.
- Some things can only be learned on stage. Did you play sports? Did you ever notice how some guys were great in practice, but not great during the game? This is due to the mental pressure of performance. The only way to improve is to not take yourself too seriously and step out. It takes our band five live performances to start playing a new song at a high level no matter how much we practice it. Some things can only be learned on stage, so get out there!
- You will be ready when you have to be! That’s the point. You don’t wait until you’re ready to set a deadline, you set a deadline and that forces you to get ready.
Art is not just a means to an end. We are created by an incredible God who created us to create. James Sire in his book “The Universe Next Door” writes, “Human creativity is born as a reflection of infinite creativity of God himself.” So with that in mind, create good art, give God the glory, and enjoy it.
Still, the majority of artists want to use art and music to change the world. That’s never going to happen if no one ever sees or hears what you’ve made!
So set a deadline, get ready, and get out there!