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How to Listen to Your Art

How to Listen to Your Art

October 8, 2014

When you listen to your art, you. Whether this means you’ll write like a boss or live without a boss, you’ll start building a loyal, engaged audience who thrives off of your art.

It’s a powerful tool for business.

But here’s the thing: I can’t tell you how to listen to your art. As Seth Godin says:

The reason that art (writing, engaging, and all of it) is valuable is precisely why I can’t tell you how to do it. If there were a map, there be no art, because art is the act of navigating without a map.

Here are a few ways that I navigate my art. Maybe they’ll help you too:

1. Love art

“I love art, and by art I mean music, poetry, sex, paintings, the human body, literature. All of this is art to me.” – unknown

violin

You can’t listen to your art if you can’t learn to love it.

I didn’t learn to love art – truly love it – until I moved away from a major city. Life is a lot more poetic at the beach. I learned that I could channel creativity a whole lot better in a scenic environment. I started to write. And get serious about my love for art.

Do whatever you need to do to love your art. But…

2. Be silly

Don’t take yourself too seriously.

Art is the only serious thing in the world. And the artist is the only person who is never serious. – Oscar Wilde

You can take pride in your art. But still be a big goof ball. When I start taking myself too seriously, I find something silly to laugh about. Whether it’s finding comedy on YouTube, or calling a friend to tell them the latest ridiculous thing that happened, being silly lightens the mood. And it helps to put your art in perspective.

3. End information consumption

In my former life as a producer for national radio, we had a mantra:

“garbage in, garbage out.”

The thing is, information consumption is a destructive habit. Just because information is available to you every day, doesn’t mean you need to consume it.

When you consume “garbage” via cable news or celebrity gossip, you’re not going to magically be smarter…or funnier. Ok, maybe if you make jokes about the sad state of a celebrity, you can win. But there’s a good chance that you’re making your brain work harder on the things that really matter.

Information consumption creates digital clutter. Clutter leads to chaos. And chaos leads to fear. It’s a vicious cycle that society wants you to live. On repeat. Every day.

Break the cycle.

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photo captured by me

Because fear is a false friend. When you end mindless consumption, you ‘ll start to question everything you consume. And start living on a high level of Truth.

Consume less information to live more simply. You’ll open your heart + mind to a higher vibration. And learn to start taking your time.

4. Take your time.

The whole culture is telling you to hurry, while the art tells you to take your time. Always listen to the art. ~Junot Diaz

This requires patience. And it’s something that’s easy in theory. But it can take decades to learn in practice.

When you listen to the art, you put trust in the process. And you accept that everything is a work in progress. Ideas may happen overnight. But it’s the execution of your ideas that take the most time.

I’m still learning to execute on the ideas I had…at seven years old. Seven is when I wrote a story called “The Anteater that Couldn’t Catch Ants” (if only Freud were alive to dissect this one). It was about an anteater who needed to tap into his inner wisdom and patience because he could not catch ants. His friends made fun of him. He went hungry. And he felt like a fraud.

But when he stopped feeling sorry for himself, he started searching for an alternative. He learned that worms were easier to catch. And even more delicious. And the best part was his friends loved him for discovering the new food.

What a silly story from the mind of a seven year old.

But there’s such simplicity and innocence to it: Don’t let your inner anteater become your art eater. Take your time. Look at alternatives. Become more patient so that new ideas can come along. Whether it’s a better word or worm, you’re trusting the inspiration to flow through you at the right time.

5. Adjust your sails

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photo captured by me

When words become unclear, I shall focus with photographs. When images become inadequate, I shall be content with silence. – Ansel Adams

Navigate the world by adjusting your sails. Whether the world you create is in your own imagination, or in another galaxy, go there. And adjust to that.

When you adjust your art, you break out of the status quo. You let go of the lizard. And gain a new perspective, so that you can grow.

Right now I’m learning the art of photography. I find it beautiful how we can freeze moments in time. It’s a life-long passion. And instead of staying in confines of what I already know, I’m challenging myself. I even got a tripod (!) I’m serious, yo.

Ok, that “yo” made me not sound too serious. But in all seriousness, learn to adjust your art as you grow. You’ll evolve into a deeper appreciation. And it’ll bring you new insights as you explore with your imagination.

6. Slow down

When you slow down, you learn to go at your own pace. Instead of the pace of everyone around you.

A few weeks ago, I was in Times Square at night. As I stood among the neon lights, and fast-paced energy, I slowed down to capture this sign:

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I was still learning how to use my camera when I took this shot. I wish I knew how to focus better on the sign, instead of the chaos. But it’s what I captured in that moment.

Obviously the sign was talking to drivers. But it could have been talking to any one of the millions of tourists who were walking in the street.

I didn’t care that I looked like one of the millions of tourists snapping cliche shots. I didn’t care about anything, really. I just felt the need to capture the moment.

Amidst the clicking of my shutter, I heard a man’s voice to my right. “What are you shooting?” he said. Without looking to see who it was, I responded “the slow down sign.” After a moment of pause, I looked over at him…and we both laughed, realizing the absurdity of slowing down…in Times Square.

I soon learned that he was a well-known designer from Italy in NYC for fashion week. I have no idea why he decided to talk to me. Maybe because we were the only two people who were actually..slowing down in that moment. We connected over our mutual interests in art, fashion, design, and technology. And it’s a conversation that would have never happened if I wasn’t open to slowing down (and talking to strangers)!

7. Remember to breathe

A simple breathe represents how to make something so simple…awesomely simple. When you learn to breathe, you experience life in a more creative way. You surrender your mind to possibilities without needing anyone’s approval.

I remember to breathe through the practice of yoga. Whenever I need a reminder, I go to my yoga mat. It clears away stagnant energy that prevents living in the most authentic way. It’s one great way to cut to the core of your brand.

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here’s a silly pic of me and my pup Karma doing yoga…or doga 🙂

When I breathe in a difficult yoga pose, it allows me to go deeper into the pose. It’s the same thing with your art. Breathing helps you access the next level. And breathing allows you to focus better – so that you can listen to your art with more intention.

How do you listen to your art?