I think the greatest example of how to confront internal and external resistance in sharing your art is similar to how a young man pursues a relationship with the opposite sex. You start carefully and strategically. You gradually engage with the one in pursuit being sure not to share too much too soon and scare her off. There are lots of internal concerns including fear, lack of confidence, nervousness, peer pressure, and discontentment. And the external competitors are also broad for your potential girlfriend. Give your best…but stay calm and wait for a little feedback from your audience. Here’s the catch. Sometimes what they say isn’t what they mean. It’s your job to figure out the situation you’ve been given and respond in the best way you know how.
In this relationship example, if your art is being shared through the guitar, then your relationship pursuit, aka, audience could be your guitar instructor, your jammin’ buddies, your parents and close friends, or the stage. This depends on what level of relationship you have been able to develop with your art and your audience.
As discussed in the last post: Share Your Music: What if It’s Bad? we determined that before you can share art you need to be functional in a skill. Only then can you go beyond doing “tasks” and become artistic. Show me a writer who doesn’t know how to craft sentences well or a waiter who doesn’t know how to serve food. Only once you’ve conquered normal duties of a craft can you then do something in a way that touches or connects with people.
In order to see yourself through from learning a skill to becoming an artist that has an audience, you need to continually repeat the process of learning and practicing, jammin’ with friends, and playing in front of small groups of people. This will allow you to improve as an artist and also work on defeating the internal resistance that comes with playing for others. External resistance ranges from circumstances to people. If you’d like to learn more about resistance to creating your art, I encourage you to check out Steven Pressfield’s War of Art.
Our job as the artist is to get to a point where we have a healthy amount of internal resistance. I say a healthy amount because I’m not sure I’ve ever stepped up to play music on a stage and was 100% free of my nerves. I am a lot more confident now than I was before of course and I don’t ever have the idea in my mind that ‘I can’t do it’ because I’ve done it A LOT. I would guess for most beginners there is a large amount of resistance coming from inside us as to why we ‘can’t do it’. But, even if you fail, you learn something from trying. This is where you mentally want to be. You need to go from ‘can’t do it’ to, heck yes, I can.
What is Your Part
To start, I would suggest you try to look at resistance ‘factors’ as objectively as possible. The only control you have in the acceptance of your art and the defeat of resistance is to make steps to defeat it. So, it’s up to you. The worst thing you can do is complicate your internal fears and discouragements. Just call them what they are and get on sharing your skill and your art.
In the girlfriend analogy, you need to educate yourself about possible ways to attract your audience and learn what’s in the best interest of you and your potential girlfriend. If you don’t know how to act in your best interest or hers or even begin to approach the situation, then you probably need more training. It’s ok to admit that and necessary to keep improving your chances.
What’s the chance that the feedback will be in your favor if you approach a girl in your circle of friends for a date over asking a random girl at the mall? It’s the same potential between getting feedback from your guitar instructor or the stage. The instructor is more forgiving and will give you excellent feedback. The stage will just boo you off the stage…unless of course you’re a phenomenal artist. Each step closer to the stranger at the mall or the concert hall is a greater leap and means you need to be more confident and capable in your art. Don’t try to be Sinatra until you’re familiar with your vocal ability and confident in your chances to persuade your audience.
So, again, you start at ‘heck yes I can’ and then begin flirting with a relationship with the stage as you learn the skill and become better and better at your art.
About this Series
The next posts will answer the questions: “Sharing your Music: External Resistance and Knowing Help from Hurt?” and “Sharing your Music: Where Do I Share It?”.