I want to talk about this idea of the suffering artist. I’ve been thinking, and this might sound harsh but, we bring it on ourselves.
I think that part of us love the suffering, we love the idea of being a martyr for our art, we love being able to tell people how much we’ve struggled, or how little sleep we’re getting. We seem to believe inner turmoil somehow validates us as an artist.
As far as I can tell there are two kinds of suffering artist. The first is genuinely suffering, they get little to no sleep, are chronically ill and have sketchy mental as a result. This I because they take on more than they can handle.
With a serious case of FOMO they just can’t say no. To this kind of suffering artist I say stop.
You don’t have to do everything, take a break, sleep tonight. If you have to get a day job to give you the security you need to achieve this then do it. Having a day job doesn’t make you less of an artist, I have two day jobs. Just remember there are other options.
Now for the second type, and this is where I’ve been falling lately. This type of suffering artist projects the idea of suffering.
Lately I noticed I’ve gotten into the habit of saying I ‘have’ to write, I ‘have’ to work on this or that project. But I don’t have to do anything, I want to do it, because I fucking love it. I’ve been building the idea of a suffering artist around my work, either to feel more legitimate or to try and gain greater respect or sympathy from those around. Oh look at all the things I ‘have’ to do, I’ll say, Look how hard I’m working, look how much I’m suffering for my dreams.
There’s also a sense of having to earn success perhaps. But thinking this way doesn’t make me a better writer and it doesn’t get me any more respect, all it does is foster a sense of resentment and bitterness around what is supposed to be my passion and (surprise surprise) I don’t enjoy my art anymore.
So, screw suffering, embrace the joy of creating art, and don’t take on so many projects that you turn into a zombie that bites off the heads of everyone around them.
You don’t need to suffer to be an artist and you certainly shouldn’t feel like your suffering when you’re creating art. Creating art is the most fun thing ever, why else would we do it!