Getting from Point A: "Dreaming" to Point B: "Reality" is a long, tough journey.
For me, the thought of it is overwhelming, daunting and downright terrifying. As a result, I wallow in my dreams far more than taking any action to make them a reality. But dreams are not meant to stay in the Land of Fantasy. In order to get closer and closer to Reality, here are five steps to give yourself that kick in the butt you need.
1. PROCRASTINATE NO MORE
This is the ultimate " You are your own worst enemy." The only one stopping you is you. Realize that dreaming is not enough to make anything happen, no matter how hard you wish for it. There must be some action, and the first step is acknowledging that.
Think of it as, the more you procrastinate, the more you are evading something great from coming your way. So many opportunities could be flying past you as we speak and yet there you are watching uneccessary YouTube videos or prioritizing watching F.R.I.E.N.D.S. reruns. Entertaining, yes. Productive, not so much.
2. JUST DO IT
Yes, the thought of the grind to make dreams come alive is overwhelming. There are so many things you want to achieve and you want to make them perfect. Here's a re-assuring thought: the first thing you put to paper doesn't have to be your masterpiece, it probably won't be anyway. Always practice.
If, as an artist. there is a certain level of skill you want to achieve but you don't think you are there yet, this is the time to hone those skills and really work toward achieving that master level.
3. ACCEPT COMPLIMENTS / INSPIRATION & RUN WITH IT
Ever had someone give a compliment and the response they get back is, "You think so? I don't know, it's not that good..."? Yeah, never give that response back. If you receive a compliment, always take it as a sign that your skill is good or that you are doing better. A "It's not that good..." response to your own work does not boost self esteem, and is counter-productive to your goal of getting better. Do not put yourself down. Again, you are your own worse enemy.
If you are inspired by something, don't hold back from creating something, even if you think it might result in an imitation of that work. Obviously, if it looks too similar to the original, you probably shouldn't claim it as yours, but if you are after capturing the feel of the technique or learning something new to add to your skill set, then by all means! Artists do it all the time. These are called studies. It is an investment in building your skill. Not everything has to be 1000% original when you are doing the grind.
4. NO PRESSURE
In as far as you are your own worst enemy, you are also your biggest cheerleader, because no one else but you completely understands how much you want to achieve your dreams. Adding pressure to yourself is like slowly putting bars on your own cage. Boycott cages!
As earlier mentioned, the first thing (or every thing) you put to paper doesn't have to be a masterpiece. Why do you think so many artists have sketchbooks? It's to free themselves and their muses. Yes, give yourself a realistic timeframe. Yes, give yourself a direction. Those things will help keep you focused. But don't say, pressure yourself to filling up a 24"x36" canvass when you can always start small. When your muse strikes you to fill a huge canvass, you will (trust me) fill the sh*t out of that canvass.
Do not knit-pick. I myself tend to be a perfectionist when it comes to my artwork. I can't let a line or a color go if I don't get exactly what I want; and that is totally understandable--you have a vision and you want to capture it. In those cases, take a step back or come back to it later when you've spent sometime away from the project. You always come back with a fresh or different perspective.
5. DOCUMENT EVERYTHING & SHARE IT
Whether its imperfect, incomplete or work-in-progress, share your work. Show the world, especially yourself, that you are trying. It goes without saying that social media platforms are now the new portfolios for artists, and a great place to showcase your talents.
I think of sharing what you make has two-fold purpose. One: you can get encouragement from others. If putting pressure on yourself is still something you are working on, this is a great place to show you that you are perhaps overthinking something. Heck, go ahead and ask advice from other artists on social media platforms, like "How do I solve this problem?". There is a great resource now from the artistic community that you can get feedback from. It should also be treated as a platform in which you can learn.
Sharing is also a way for you to commit to a project. I'm the type that thinks, if the world never saw it, I'm not in any commitment to finish it. Finishing a project, by the way, is more important in my opinion, that perfecting it. Finishing means you dedicated yourself to it, whereas perfection is something you can work on as you keep practicing. It is also my personal waterloo. So, sharing my work online makes me think that I have to share the finished piece at some point. I have to finish my work. After all, when I do get clients in the future, I have to finish the work that they give me!
Full disclosure: this blog post is actually a love letter addressed to myself. I struggle with getting my dreams off the ground over and over again.
Hopefully these tips will help set you on the path for further greatness (you are, of course, already great)! Remember, with each of these steps / tips is another battle with your worst enemy: yourself. It is a brave act to stand up to your enemies (aka you), but also a far greater act of bravery to stand up to your friends (aka also you).