The Artist’s Mindset

Something to keep in mind as you go into this new year…

All is Mental… It’s all in your head.

What do I mean? 

Well I was thinking, what is the best idea I could share that would help everyone that reads it? Something universal so that it doesn’t really matter what kind of art you make. What is the number one most important thing I have learned so far?

The importance of mindset.

Everything we experience in what we call “Reality” is filtered through the mind. You may think you see with your eyes, but actually those are just like camera sensors, you see with your mind.  You may think you can feel with with your fingers but if the nerves were properly communicating with the brain you would feel nothing.  You may think that emotions are just arising in you but they get interpreted and contextualized by the mind.  You may think your circumstances are an issue but that’s only in your mind because chances are someone from worse circumstances has already achieved something similar to what you are trying to. 

Everything that happens in your life and art is touched at some point by the mind.  This being the case, it is clear that one has to guard, cultivate, and develop the mind in order to accomplish anything and find true deep meaning in life.

Your Mind-Set is the actual set that the play that is your life unfolds on.  My goal is not to try to convince you or guide you to some certain mindset that I think is best, although I will be sharing mindsets that I try to cultivate.  My goal is only to convince you that you need to be intentional about your mindset, otherwise it becomes very difficult to sustain the intense level of consistent effort required to meet whatever goal you have, whether it’s becoming a wedding photographer, or putting out your first EP or mixtape.

lets continue with the play analogy for a second.  If the set for your play looks like this

what kind of things do you think make sense for the plot of the play?

What about if it looked like this?

Granted there could be a twist, something that you didn’t see coming but generally speaking if the set is gloomy gloomy stuff happens, if the set is happy happy stuff happens.  We all know that environment plays a huge role in development thus the environment you establish in your mind determines how much your ideas actually get developed, and as artists we want our ideas to see the light of day instead of being trapped in a toxic environment in your mind where they cannot develop.

Now before I share the mindsets that have been most helpful to me so far It’s important that I stress to you that you cannot (in most cases) change mindset over night.  Once you find a frame of reference that serves your happiness and your goals it is required that you find ways to reinforce and cultivate your new mindset otherwise you will simply regress back into a mindset that doesn’t serve you.  This means again that you must be intentional.

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Let’s talk about what it means to be intentional because it is a very misunderstood concept.  People are mislead by this idea of good intention vs bad intention.  That “good” vs “bad” thing is judging, it’s a trap.  I could talk about why judging is a trap in another post that’s really beyond the scope of this but let me know if you’re interested.  

Let’s start by understanding the word intent.

Intent means intention or purpose.

synonyms:aim, intention, purpose, objective, object, goal, target;

as an adjective it means

resolved or determined to do (something)

attentively occupied with.

example: “Jill was intent on her gardening magazine”

synonyms:attentive, absorbed, engrossed, fascinated, enthralled, rapt, riveted;

So why did I do the most with that and going into definitions? Because I want you to realize when you say I didn’t have bad intentions what you mean is most likely that you actually didn’t have intentions at all, and that you were acting without intention because every true definition of the word implies some specificity.  If you say you intend to finish a project, or even change your mindset and it doesn’t happen there’s only a few things that could be wrong. One is that you didn’t put forth the required effort, this is a conclusion that many people jump to about others but in most situations is not the case.  Another possibility is that you simply haven’t been patient enough and that the thing you are intent on will still happen given enough continued effort.  These first two are obvious what isn’t as obvious is maybe the problem is that you were not entirely attentive, absorbed, engrossed, fascinated, enthralled, rapt, riveted 

when it came to your

aim, intention, purpose, objective, object, goal, target.

And this happens because you did not create enough clarity within your mind about what this aim was that you needed to be so engrossed in.

I say all this to let you know the scale of what you’re trying to do when shifting mindset so that you don’t disrespect your own efforts because it is difficult to actually be intentional and consistent.

(This has me thinking i should do a full post on intention…)

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So what mindsets have I found useful?

The Growth Mindset and the Pro Mindset.

There’s a lot of info on the growth mindset but a good start is the book Mindset by Carol Dweck and a good place to start understanding the Pro mindset is my article Are You a Real Artist  and This video by the Storytellers.

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