Perhaps you are familiar with the classic test of optimism and pessimism. Do you see the glass as half empty? or half full? Naturally you see it has half full – because you always seek to put the best face on a situation, and find reason for hope. Right?! Well – maybe not always – but perhaps it is a reasonable goal. Programming ourselves with positive messages, reinforcing productive behaviors with self praise, finding silver linings around dark clouds, these are important disciplines that keep us on a productive track.
Sometimes we have to dig a little to find that silver lining. Our beloved Composer of Music for Art, in the early years of her website, http://www.audiosparksforart.com, could go for weeks without enjoying the experience of a single hit to the site. Oh how she suffered!
But experiences in other areas of her life had taught her that progress is not always visible, not always obvious. For example, our girl loves to study the torah in Hebrew and Aramaic. She has invested years in the process. In the beginning, she was cracking the dictionary and grammar books more than she was getting through the actual study text. But each day, a new word was learned, an old word remembered and reinforced, a concept of grammar solidified. And as the months and years clicked by, her fluency developed. It seemed one fine morning she could miraculously read in Hebrew. But no – it was the slow, steady investment, mostly without much immediate reward, that paid off over time.
Likewise we see in show business what might appear to be individuals who rocket to fame, seemingly overnight. But they truly did not just emerge on the scene. They were doing summerstock, and community theater, and taking classes, and doing grunt work, and finally the break and the ability met, and a star was “born”.
So with our Composer’s beautiful website – there was also an invisible progress occurring. For every hit on a website, you might need 1000 search results. And this was in fact the dynamic transpiring. Our girl was actually building up search results, true progress, until one fine day she started seeing the hits.
In your creative life, your creative work, it can be helpful to identify the more obvious metrics for progress. For example, how long were you able to work today in a focused way, as opposed to last month or last year? How efficiently, fluidly, do you move through the stages of the creative cycle – from concept to learning to execution to sharing? How effectively are you blending social interaction, self-nurturing, into your life as an artist? These metrics don’t pass judgement on your works, per se, but they are in fact good indicators of progress, maturing, in your work, that may not be so obvious through examination of the work itself.
Find ways to encourage yourself, to recognize progress and growth. As you tune in to metrics which you can easily measure, you will likewise become more sensitive to the subtle indicators of progress and maturing in your creative works.