“The artist is nothing without the gift, but the gift is nothing without work.”
Lately I’ve had nothing but time. My feet are still weak and the closest I come to walking is fearful crutch-work across the kitchen floor as I put more and more weight on the feet. I have visions of the screws and plates popping out. It’s scary as hell. But if there’s one thing I know about physiotherapy, it’s this: recovery doesn’t show up on your doorstep. You don’t say, “I’ll do the exercises after my feet heal.” You do the work, the healing comes.
The same is true of photography, writing, or any creative endeavor. You do the work. There is no muse; at least not one that is beckoned by anything but work. There is no amount of talent that compensates for lack of work. Everything I have read about creativity echoes the same thing. And it is that we do the work. Our work. The work that others will call art, or for which they’ll credit us with genius (or not). But however highly we think of it, or don’t, it remains simply work.
There are frustrations aplenty in the creative life. We work within constraints. We have highs where not a soul could touch us if they tried, and lows where the same is true. In other words, it’s hard enough without on top of that worrying about the size of our talent compared to others, or whether the muse will show up, or if we’ve thought our last creative thought, made our last beautiful photograph. When you get frustrated, just begin. Pick up the camera and do the work. Sit down at the laptop and start the edit. Do the work.
Don’t worry about getting inspired, being original, or any of the other things that haunt the creative mind. The muse will show up, she always does. It’s she who’s waiting. Just start. Do the work.
“Inspiration exists, but it has to find us working.”
“Just as appetite comes by eating, so work brings inspiration, if inspiration is not discernible at the beginning.”
~ Igor Stravinsky