Do all the other things, the ambitious things—travel, get rich, get famous, innovate, lead, fall in love, make and lose fortunes, swim naked in wild jungle rivers (after first having it tested for monkey poop)—but as you do, to the extent that you can, err in the direction of kindness. Do those things that incline you toward the big questions, and avoid the things that would reduce you and make you trivial. That luminous part of you that exists beyond personality—your soul, if you will—is as bright and shining as any that has ever been. Bright as Shakespeare’s, bright as Gandhi’s, bright as Mother Theresa’s. Clear away everything that keeps you separate from this secret luminous place. Believe it exists, come to know it better, nurture it, share its fruits tirelessly.
I always say that writing, for me, is like going to church. When I’m out of my way, when my ego is hushed, when my propensity for judging myself and editing myself is silenced for a moment, I’m feeling pretty close to God and everything that’s good.
We forget that every good that is worth possessing must be paid for in strokes of daily effort. We postpone and postpone, until those smiling possibilities are dead. Whereas ten minutes a day of poetry, of spiritual reading or meditation, and an hour or two a week at music, pictures, or philosophy, provided we began now and suffered no remission, would infallibly give us in due time the fulness of all we desire. By neglecting the necessary concrete labor, by sparing ourselves the little daily tax, we are positively digging the graves of our higher possibilities.
Hemingway did his best work when he didn’t drink, then he drank himself to death and blew his head off with a shotgun. Someone asked John Cheever, “What’d you learn from Hemingway?” and he said “I learned not to blow my head off with a shotgun.”
First of all, thank you! I’m self taught. The only art classes I took were some in high school (I did poorly in them) and I took one life drawing class in college.
The only useful advice I can think of is practice practice practice. Doodle on everything you can - notebooks, class assignments, receipts, napkins, canvas, whatever you can get your hands on. Just keep drawing. Go with what works for you, try different materials, try drawing things in different sizes. I found my niche in tiny watercolors after a long time.
Here’s a set of doodles from 2+ years ago
and something from the roughly 2 years since then mark
I think there’s some changes, at least in proportions and detail.
Oh, and if you get a chance, check out National Portfolio Day. You don’t need to be an art major or enrolled in school to attend. I’ve gone two years running and I feel like I get so much out of it every time. The first year I went, I brought a binder full of pop culture drawings, and the representative from the School of the Art Institute of Chicago asked “Have you ever considered drawing comics?” It was the biggest game changer for me.
I’ve heard countless people say “I wish I could draw!”, to which I always say “You can!”
Anyone can be an artist, a writer, a musician or whatever it is you put your mind to. It doesn’t matter how old you are or how good you currently are at that thing. The only thing that matters is how much you want it. I REALLY wanted to be an artist, like, really bad. I would also love to learn an instrument, and I know I could, but I just haven’t given it the attention it requires.
If you want to accomplish something, go out and do it. The only thing holding you back is yourself. Set a high goal and don’t stop until you get there!