3 Ways to Expect More From Your Art

Today in my yoga class, our teacher began the class by asking us if we were expecting too much from our yoga practice. Like was I expecting my yoga practice to ensure that I’d never lose my temper again or feel annoyed at that person who holds the elevator for everyone -- even the people outside the lobby doors. Her question made me ask myself: am I expecting too much from my art? (Which in my case, is my writing.) Am I secretly hoping that if I have enough success from it, I'll never feel angry or annoyed or sad again?

Or, this is scarier: am I NOT expecting enough from my art? Am I NOT expecting it’s going to make a difference to me or anyone else? Am I neglecting it? Is it running around without a winter coat, in need of a new haircut? Am I spending enough time with it? Time and care that it needs to grow and prosper? Are you?

In a Writer's Digest webinar I took earlier this week about “How to Blog Meaningfully and Grow Your Audience” with Jane Friedman, she advised to give your blog a year. If you quit too soon, you miss out on what she called the “snowball effect.”

Am I devoting enough time to my writing so that I’ll benefit from the snowball effect of my years of writing? Are you?

I’ve been writing a memoir this year by just focusing on gathering the next snowflake. Now I’m done. In the next couple of months I'll make minor revisions, research agents and publishers, buff my query letter and perfect my elevator speech.

The heft of the manuscript in my hand is proof of the snowball effect. Those few fluttery first pages have grown into a heavy snowball. If I threw it, it would have an impact.

Jane encouraged us to use numbers in our blogs. So, in the spirit of practicing what I learned, these are three ways you can expect more from your art practice:

  1. Pay attention to it: Show up when you say you will and stick to staying with the practice, even if it means just sitting there. Those emails can wait.
  2. Find 3 new opportunities that your art can snag for you. This could mean: schedule a reading, submit to a new publication, enter a competition. Expect your art to work hard for you.
  3. Expect that your art is going to change one person’s perspective or enlarge someone’s life. Take a look at it: is there some way you can take that painting or that essay further so it will have more of an impact?

Your art can’t make your life easy. But it will change your life if you expect enough from it.

Photo by Hide Obara