When you're an artist you discover that support is crucial if you plan to turn your passion into a career. Sure, you can find an abundance of love and support from any number of family and close friends, but the backing of those who can truly empathize with the struggle of honing your craft is particularly special.
They just get it. And they get it because they’ve walked the proverbial mile in your shoes.
But beyond that, they provide more than mere understanding. A community of creative, likeminded people serve as an incubator, assisting you in the hatching of your abilities. This is why I believe that all writers, painters, musicians, entrepreneurs, etc., should make an effort to devote quality time to be in the presence of a creative community; if for no other reason than to chat over a latte or brunch. And in doing so, you will find that...
1. THEY KEEP YOU IN CHECK
I can recall numerous occasions when I would go on a blogging hiatus – either out of pure laziness or an overwhelming schedule – only to hear a friend comment during the course of a conversation, "So, I see you haven't been blogging lately. Why is that?" Their stern tone would immediately send me running to my pen and notebook. A strong creative community will hold you accountable to your passion. Like a gym buddy, they aren't afraid to scold you when you haven't been working in a while.
2. THEY'RE HONEST
There were times I used to ask just about anyone to proofread or give their opinion on my blog posts prior to clicking the publish button.
"Whatcha think?" I'd ask.
"It's good," they would reply.
"Yeah, I like it."
And that would conclude the conversation. Not a single word of constructive feedback. It wasn't until I began formulating my own creative community that I began receiving honest and effective criticism on my writings. If a line in a poem doesn't make sense, they will tell me. If a story doesn't feel finished, they will let me know. You don't need yes-men/women in your community. Real feedback is what will push your work to grow; not constant approval out of fear of hurting your feelings.
3. COLLABORATION IS A GOOD THING
You need to view the people in your creative community as opportunities for collaboration, not just competition. Unfortunately, pride often gets in the way of forming amazing bonds. I find that some creators and innovators tend to be so focused on being the best that they don't see the potential for what they can create collectively. There are no boundaries to creativity.
4. YOUR DREAMS AREN'T CRAZY AFTER ALL
There was a time when I was afraid to share my dreams and aspirations with others. I don't have plans for a conventional 9 to 5 job until age 62, followed by retirement in Naples, FL. That's no shade to those who intend on living such a life, but I understand that when your dreams go against the grain they become the target of small-minded people. Not only are my dreams outside the proverbial box, they shatter the box. Because of this, I learned early on to keep them close to the vest and share them with creative people.
I'm a huge believer that extraordinary dreams and visions require extraordinary faith and a work ethic to match, and it is crucial to be able to share your heart in the safety of a trusted creative community. When you tell them your dreams you should not only be met with honest criticism and ideas on how to best succeed, but the loving embrace from one who understands and appreciates the unique person God made you. Surround yourself with dreamers, hard-workers, innovators, and creators – those who help you see the possibilities in the midst of impossible odds.
— Tara Pook
Photo Credit: Jessica Hughee