Recently I found some quiet time to sit, relax and reflect.
I went to the local shopping mall to use the banking facilities and pick up some money that was owed to me.
When I was finished I figured I'd go to a nice little coffee shop, drink some coffee, listen to some tunes, relax and let some ideas flow.
I found myself in this quiet coffee shop full of Japanese. I didn't have a computer with me, so I grabbed a pen and a sheet of paper and got to work (artists are always “on”).
As I was jotting notes I was listening to a Dwight Yoakam song called Back of Your Hand and a line hit me like a ton of bricks…
“You think you're lost without any place left to go.”
Beautiful lyrics. I don't identify with them anymore, but I can understand where they're coming from.
Once upon a time I thought I was lost with no place left to go.
It was either sink to the bottom or rise to the top.
I made my choice to rise to the top and things got better every day in every way.
Which leads me to now. The day at the coffee shop was a momentous occasion for me.
I'd made a special trip out to Western Union because I knew that the few bucks owed to me would put me over my goal.
I made a bunch of money from my art, I made it faster than I ever have before and I did it with a smile on my face because I did it my way.
How to be a successful artist
Drawing, painting, singing, playing guitar, writing – all that stuff is art. The stuff mom and dad called a pipe dream.
Language is my art so you can call me a writer.
But writing isn't my job, it's one aspect of my business. So I treat it like a business.
To be successful as an artist there is one thing you have to do: work at it.
A lot of people get in front of a blank screen or a blank canvas and walk away with the screen still blank. They say “the inspiration wasn't there anymore”.
I write every single day. Whether I'm inspired or not. The difference is that I just don't publish every single day.
People who treat art as a business show up and do the work. That's their secret to success. Even if “inspiration” isn't there they show up and they go to work.
Another secret that artists don't like to talk about: you'll create a lot of shit before you create gold. But you work anyway.
The first drafts of my articles are always vastly different than the finished piece. It's not hyperbole to say it takes me weeks to write an article.
The idea simmers in my head for weeks or months. Then I start the writing process which is usually 4 or 5 drafts that are worthless. And then one day it all comes out as a skeleton of an article. But the skeleton needs meat on it so I edit for 8 hours or more.
After weeks of work on one article I can hit the “publish” button.
Art as a business
A lot of writers trying to make a living go about it the wrong way because they think small. They don't think about the back-end, just what they can get right now.
There are a lot of good writers who will never find success writing because their mindset is stuck in the little leagues and they’re wondering how to sell their words to websites or magazines.
My words aren’t for sale and they don’t work to make someone else rich.
My words work for me, they serve a purpose. If they don't serve a purpose they don't get published.
When I write an article I plan for growth. I plan for the article to get bigger over time.
I never plan on a one time avalanche of traffic.
I do the opposite of what newspapers and “gossip” blogs do.
What's the opposite?
Timeless content lives on long after it has been released.
Make your art work for you
You have to treat your art as a business if you want it to work for you, and not the other way around.
“Making money is crude and art is magical and untainted.”
Know who said that?
Every broke starving artist.
Starving artists don't plan ahead. They make art for art's sake.
They're thinking process is this: “Make art today, make art tomorrow.”
My thinking process is this: “Make art today, make money tomorrow.”
I've hired a professional artist to draw this diagram to illustrate my point:
“Making money is selling out!”
There's nothing wrong with making money from your work.
To make money from art you've got to put that art to work.
If you don't make your art work for you, instead of working to make art, then mom and dad were right. Being an artist is a pipe dream for you.
But art only becomes a pipe dream when you allow it to be a pipe dream.
Stop dreaming, start planning
Plan for a career in the arts and that's what you'll get.
Everything you do should be for a purpose.
A to B in a straight line. Make art, make money, be a professional artist.
Don't forget the back-end
As an artist you spill your guts for everyone to see.
And since you're spilling your guts you should get paid for doing it.
Spill your guts and make some bucks. -Victor Pride
Th 4 C's of artistry
As an artist you will deal with the 4 C's…
- Copycats – Bold and Determined has more copycats than the Beatles. The copycats will never “make it”. They'll never get anywhere because they don't have a voice. They're pretending to be me and using my pretend voice. You can't out-Victor Victor Pride. There is only one person you can be – you. To be successful you have to relate to others. The only way you'll relate to others is to express yourself. You won't do it by copying someone else.
- Critics – Having critics is great because it means you are somebody. Critics don't critique nobodies. If you get a negative critic (often called a “hater”) it's good news because it means you are provoking an emotional reaction. Make 'em cry or make 'em buy has always been my motto. Be happy you have critics, then ignore them.
- Contemporaries – Contemporaries are people who are in the same line of work as you. They are often friends and business partners as well. My contemporaries are Danger and Play and Good Looking Loser.
- Competition – The great thing about being an artist is that there is no competition and there never will be. I'm Victor Pride and you're not, so how can you compete with me? You can't. No one can. You can pick up a guitar and play power chords all day and night but you will never be Metallica. You can paint your face and stick out your tongue but you will never be KISS. As an artist you bare your soul, no one can recreate that. It can be copied and imitated but never recreated.
How many times should I say this, a thousand times?
Everyone will drag you down if you let them.
…so just don't let them.
Your gut instinct is right, their gut instinct about you is wrong. They don't know what you know and they don't believe you can do it.
But they're limited by their own minds, experiences and failures.
Their world-view isn't your world-view.
They don't know what you know. They don't know what's inside your head. They don't know what you're capable of.
Only you know that. So why would you ask them for approval?
I'll say it a thousand more times: You're a nobody until you've accomplished something and nobody will ever believe in you until after you have achieved.
So don't worry about approval.
Be like me. I don't mean copy me. I mean don't give up.
Follow your gut instinct and take it all the way from A to B in a straight line.
Don't be one of those give-up artists. Always going from A to A in a circle, always giving up before you really get started and always moving on to multiple fruitless projects.
Be the man you want to be
A long time ago I wasn’t the man I wanted to be.
I worked jobs that I hated so I could get a tiny, little paycheck.
Then I found real estate investing. I worked hard and I was basically retired by my mid-late twenties. All I did was hang out at home, go to the gym, work sometimes, party on the weekends and have a revolving flow of girls coming in and out of my life.
More like “yeah, right”. You need a purpose in life. I didn't have one. I was living for nothing.
But that was a long time ago. I saw the change needed and I took a leap of faith.
Fast forward several years and I've been living the life I used to dream about living. My life is fantastic.
Living my old life would be a nightmare and I'd sooner die than go back to working for someone else, “surviving” on a paycheck or living alone just so I could put more notches on my belt.
That's such a pathetic way to live life it doesn't even cross my mind now as an alternative.
If everything I have today vanished and I had to start over with nothing this is what I'd do: I'd start all over and I'd do the exact same thing I started doing nearly four years ago. I'd live with purpose. I'd rebuild.
The secret to success is really so simple I feel embarrassed for all the guys who email me daily asking what the secret is.
Here it is, here's the big secret:
Do the work, be who you are meant to be, don’t give up.
Time + Work + Commitment = Your Freedom
All I ever did was be the man I was destined to be. All I ever did was live life on my terms. All I ever did was create the best blog in the world and then put it into words for you to read and enjoy.
That’s all I did.
Easy enough, right?
Until next time.