Friday, September 23, 2011

Taking Risks

I've been thinking a lot lately about risks. Being an artist comes with risk, whether you're a writer or your art takes a different form. You risk rejection. You risk displeasure. You risk success. You risk missing the heart of your vision. You risk hitting the heart of your vision, and then having to send it out to others who don't look at things through your eyes.

Risk is a terrifying thing.

It's also the heartblood of great art.

Is it risky to sit down and put words to a page? Put brush to canvas? Put yourself into the next role you play on stage? Yes. But riskier still, and far more rewarding, is pushing yourself beyond the conventions of your art. Leaving behind the steady lines you've been coloring inside because that's what others are doing, so that must be your path too. Looking that huge, awesome, completely terrifying idea straight in the face and saying "Bring it."

Those are the risks that blaze paths.

Those are the moments that lead to greatness.

To get to those moments, you may need to color in the lines for a little while. Just until the lines start to feel constricting. Until you are not just curious to see what it looks like to break the rules, but you feel a burning need to smash them to pieces and rebuild them your way.

To get to those moments, you need to be honest. You can't take another's lens and put it over your vision. You have to take all the little pieces that make up the sum total of your life experience and be heartbreakingly, jaw-droppingly, stun-others-into-silence honest. Because the moment truth leaks into your art, greatness follows.

So, when you're flirting with your next project, and you have the safe, tame, I've-done-this-so-I-know-I-can-repeat-it idea side by side with the holy-crap-this-might-kill-me-and-what-if-I-don't-have-the-chops-to-do-it-justice idea?

Choose truth.

Choose to draw your own lines, wear your own lens, and plumb your depths to see what you're truly capable of doing.

Choose risk.


  1. Coloring outside the lines always gives an interesting perspective to life endeavors. (Hugs)Indigo

  2. Awesome blog this morning, C.J. And in the words of Henry David Thoreau: "Most men lead lives of quiet desperation...don't be resigned to that. Break Out!"

  3. Amen.

    Its takes a lot of courage to do great things. But anything worth doing ...

  4. wow. just, wow. I want to be you when I grow up

  5. Are you inside my head? I do have a this-is-such-a-good-idea-maybe-someone-else-should-write-it idea! It's scary! It's bigger than me! And I'm just going to jump in. Um... tomorrow. ; )

    Thanks, CJ!

  6. I'm all about pushing, baby!
    I'm all in!

  7. Yes yes yes! Also really well said in the book "Art and Fear: Observations on the Perils and Rewards of Artmaking" by David Bayles and Ted Orland.

    You go, girl!


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