How to Master Your Art

Posted by on November 11, 2015

mckella sawyer

It’s easy to look around at professional artists, writers, and performers and get intimidated.

That intimidation can prevent us from creating because we feel like or work will never be as good, or we might even get inspired by them and start a project of our own, only to get really frustrated and quit when it doesn’t turn out like what we imagined.

Last week I wrote about comparing ourselves to others, and getting intimidated by the masters is the same song, second verse. If we aren’t creating because we aren’t masters yet, we are comparing our work to someone else’s.

I get it. Sometimes I read Harry Potter, or something by Barbara Kingsolver or Amy Tan (two of my faves, check them out!) and think “Holy crap, there is no way I could ever write this well!” and my writing feels stale and clunky for the next few weeks.

I want you to remember something very important:

Every master started as as beginner, and every beginner can become a master.

No master started out as amazing as they became.

Everybody starts out sucking at stuff, and that’s great!

I heard something once, and I don’t remember who said it, but it was something like “the difference between the master and the novice is that the master has failed more times than the novice has even tried.”

Another wise quote in the same vein is from the cartoon Adventure Time, and it is “Sucking at something is the first step to be sorta good at something.”

So how does one become a master?

Two ingredients: Time and practice.

You might say “Duh, I know that. Practice, practice, practice, right?”

Yes, but…

…while we might conjure images of sleepless nights at the typewriter or a wild-haired, half-starved artist at the easel working feverishly day and night while neglecting all other aspects of normal life, or maybe we picture a Rocky-like movie montage of sweat and tears and eventual victory, that’s not what mastery actually looks like.

The road to mastery is much less dramatic.

Mastery is all about consistency. Practicing, learning, little by little, on a regular basis.

Maybe just one hour a day. A half hour. Maybe even ten minutes.

But by showing up consistently and practicing, you will gain mastery over time.

It’s not very exciting, but that’s how masters become masters.

Also, masters don’t stop applying time and practice when they become masters. They keep practicing, keep learning and growing. Little by little, they keep trying.

Masters aren’t superhumans, they’re just people who know how to be consistent.

That’s all it takes. Time, practice, and most importantly, consistency.

So what steps can you take to get on the road to mastery?

Figure out what you want to master. Are you an artist? Writer? Singer? What’s your art?

Figure out how much practice you can commit to consistently. It’s ok if you can only do ten minutes a day. You can always do more if you have extra time each day, but consistency is the key here.

Set a time each day to play. Schedule it.

Show up.

That’s it. Show up for a short period of time every day.

That will add up, and in time, your skills will grow in ways you never imagined.


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