Have you ever heard this poem?
Stick to your task ’til it sticks to you;
Beginners are many, but enders are few.
Honour, power, place, and praise
Will come, in time, to the one who stays.
Stick to your task ’til it sticks to you;
Bend at it, sweat at it, smile at it too;
For out of the bend and the sweat and the smile
Will come life’s victories, after awhile.
It may be just a little bit cheesy, but there’s a lot of truth in it. And here’s what it can teach you about achieving artistic success:
Stick to your task ’til it sticks to you
I used to have a lot of trouble actually finishing projects I’d start. I’d get an idea, start feverishly working and turning it over in my mind. . . and then I’d realize how hard it might be. At the first sign of difficulty I’d tuck it away, saying I’d return to it “someday.”
Sound familiar? If it does, there’s plenty of hope for you. Sticking to your task is a skill you can learn, practice, and get better at!
When you set aside time every single day (even as little as 15 minutes) to work on an ambitious art project or even just your general art practice, you’ll be surprised at the way it will start to stick to you.
It’ll become like a baby sloth clinging to its mother—you’ll begin to feel attached to it and in time it’ll be hard to put down.
When you carve out that little slot in your everyday life, the art you’re producing becomes a meaningful and enjoyable part of your routine. The consistent care you put in is like a glue that makes it sticky, and far more difficult to abandon.
Beginners are many, but Enders are few
This world is full of dreamers. Dreams and high hopes are cheap; creating the reality you want to see is not.
As it turns out, most of the people dreaming dreams get a little soft when it comes to putting in the work to actually make it happen. Want to stand out? Stick with something for a long time.
“If people knew how hard I worked to get my mastery, it wouldn’t seem so wonderful at all.” -Michelangelo
What are your artistic dreams? Are you acting as an ender or merely as a beginner?
Honor, power, place, and praise, will come in time to the one who stays
No matter what it is you hope to achieve with your art, it will take time and dedication to achieve it. Every successful artist you see shares at least one thing in common: they stayed with what they were doing long enough to let success happen.
Knowing your way around the business of art, your technique, your style, and your audience always takes time.
Momentum usually grows slowly. So keep expectations realistic and be prepared to stick with something for years if necessary.
If there is anything like a universal recipe for artistic success, then toughing it out while you learn all you can seems to be it.
Keep drawing. Keep painting. Keep reading and learning all you can. Keep cultivating meaningful relationships with other artists and with your audience-to-be. The growth of your skills and your art business may happen slowly but it will happen.
Give it a chance by really staying with it. Like a seed you’ve planted, nurture it until it sprouts and begins to grow.
Bend at it, sweat at it, smile at it too
Of course making art is enjoyable, but it is also work. And that’s OK.
Unfortunately we’re all familiar with cliche statements like “If you love what you do, you’ll never work a day in your life.” Perhaps when your art feels like work, you think you’re doing something wrong.
Nope, you’re not. In fact, if it feels like hard work—if you’re wearing yourself out in your pursuit at least a little—you’re probably doing it right.
Of course, that’s not to say that work can’t be enjoyable. It can and should be. Hard work done in pursuit of your dreams can give your life a greater purpose. There’s a lot of positivity and enjoyment in that.
Work hard, and find the joy in really exerting yourself to achieve something meaningful. If it’s important, far-reaching, or life-changing for you, never expect it to be easy. It will be work. Embrace it and take the bull by the horns. You got this.
Are you bending at your art? Are you sweating at it? And when all is said and done, are you able to smile at the work that’s got to be done?
Out of the bend and the sweat and the smile will come life’s victories, after awhile.
What do you want to achieve victory over?
We all have obstacles that stand between us and our ultimate vision. So then, what is success but achieving victory over these obstacles that seem to stand in the way!
Sometimes, we get into a rut. We keep making art, but we plateau. It’s good, sure, but it doesn’t seem to get any better. Upward progress isn’t really being made. It’s similar to showing up at the gym everyday but not shedding any weight.
In these situations we may be forgetting to really bend at our practice and sweat at it. A big breakthrough in progress takes learning, trying new things, and subjecting ourselves to sometimes painful criticism. It takes exertion, discomfort, and stepping outside of what’s familiar and safe.
But again, don’t forget to smile at it as well. Never let yourself forget that what you’re engaged in is a labor of love. A healthy dose of laughter, positivity, and playful experimentation will help you cope with the discomfort that comes with growth.
You can do it!
Stick to your art. Work hard. Be an ender and not just a beginner. Stay with your work. Actively seek ways to learn. Step out of your comfort zone.
You can grow. You can gain momentum. You can finish ambitious pieces of art, and it’s important that you do. You have the ability to work hard. You can be victorious. You can achieve your goals. You can claim life’s victories.
Keep at it. Stick to your art ’til it sticks to you.
Special thanks to Chey Rasmussen for sharing this article! For more from Chey, please visit his website at creative-basecamp.com.
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