Our Creative Lives: Grit


Today’s post is about going the distance.

Let’s face it: the universe does not always shower us with inspiration and flowers on a daily or, sometimes, even weekly basis. Every artist that I know occasionally goes through periods of seeming stagnation; long stretches of waiting for the phone to ring or the grant monies to come through; uncomfortable dry patches with no gigs in sight and no love from the club owners that are normally happy to book you; or an abysmally slow month when all the usual freelance clients seem to be AWOL. The sense of inertia can also be internal and manifest as discouragement, a lack of brilliance, an absence of fire or an ambiguous resistance that you can’t quite put your finger on.  No matter where you look or what you do, there is a pervasive sense that nothing is happening.

The easiest response to the situation is to curl up, retreat to the couch with a two- pound bag of M&M’s and zone out on Mad Men reruns. However, this approach does nothing to get the train back on track and usually only results in a measure of self-loathing. Shutting down is just not an option for most of us. So what to do?

It all boils down to grit.

Grit is about powering through even when the environment feels inhospitable. It’s about intention, tenacity and focus. We draw on grit when nothing else seems to be working. It’s finding your soul muscle and digging deeper. It’s  having the guts to lean into the here and now. Grit is the ultimate act of trusting yourself.

Of course, it’s much easier to write about moxie than to execute on it. I know firsthand. As a writer and a vocalist, I’ve been up against it myself on numerous occasions. I’ve endured long periods of creative angst and painful cycles with few gigs and little money. I know that bleak landscape all too well. But if the page is stubbornly blank, I still have to stare it down until the words come. And even if the hours are repetitious and lonely, I still have to practice and keep my voice in shape. Going the distance isn’t glamorous. It could be viewed as something akin to devotion but frankly, in the moment, it doesn’t usually feel that noble.

Perseverance is a choice, but nobody said it would always be easy. For me, it’s about loving what I do so damn much that the ultimate outcome isn’t that important. However, staying in the game is.

I’m interested in hearing from you. How do you go the distance? What does your particular form of grit look like? The comments are open. Please jump in.