In 1929, Rilke's Letters to a Young Poet was published. Ten short letters of encouragement to a 19-year old hopeful poet. And the master gives wonderful advice that still heartens any creative artists around the world. Wonderful advice about craft, not showing your work too soon, keeping the fire alive inside even if you never get the recognition for your poetry. It is still an amazing set of letters. As if written directly to us. While I have not read Rilke's letters for over ten years, I know the spirit and ideas he expressed have kept me hopeful and energetic about my own writing.
My Letters to a Young Artist in the Digital Age has the same intent. Bring a new perspective to the creative process. This creative live is a path and not an end destination. Few of us will become Steven King, or George R. R. Martin, or J. K. Rowling. For those of us still on the path towards recognition or financial success, there are quite a few discouragements and barriers. It can be a struggle to keep your creative self alive and healthy.
In these letters I am in many ways writing to myself as a young aspiring writer. But I am also aware that I am writing these letters for myself as a man of 51-years who is still seeking expression. That alone is a success story. I am still at it. I am still writing, singing, and playing music as if I were still in the race. But of course, it's not a race, it is life. And if you are a creative person, you have a long life ahead, and if you are lucky, and perseverant, you will continue to create well into your old age.
And in many ways I am writing these letters to my future self as well. Encouraging my current, 51-year old self, to keep writing. I have the magic perspective of time travel to bring all three of these "artists" together in my mind, as I write the little ideas for keeping creativity as a main goal of life. This is my goal: creativity is a life way, if there is anything I can do to help others find their path let me share my own experience.
So, let's start there. This is my experience, in my 51+ years of being an artist. I have had some successes and many failures, but I've always gotten back up and brushed myself off, and continued with the work. Along this path I have come up with some ideas that help me maintain my hope, my energy, and my focus as an artist. And I am writing these pages to you, if you are on the same journey. What we need is friends along the path, to cheer us on. These letters are me, cheering you on. And in many ways, I am cheering myself on, as I continue to create and believe that my life's gift is in this creating.
I hope you find creativity in your life. And if I can be of any help to you, let me know. I am over here in my own tunnel of life, furiously creating myself, and I will share what I can of the light for us to forge ahead.
Introduction: Letters to a Young Artist
Letter One: Letters to a Young Artist in the Digital Age – Your Personal Creative Cloud
Letter Two: Vocation and Passion: Letters to a Young Creative Artist
Letter Three: Sing At the Top of Your Range
Letter Four: Focus Yourself: Cutting Away the Distractions
Letter Five: Creative Energy: Finding and Maintaining Your Daily Juice
Letter Six: Cutting Deep to Find Your Genius
Letter Seven: Perseverance and Habit: This Creative Morning
Letter Eight: Stop Talking: Do The Work, Don't Talk About Doing It
Letter Nine: Get Into Your Mess: Cleaning Can Be a Distraction
Letter Ten: Opening to the Poetic In Your Life: Poetic Listening
Letter Eleven: Paralyzed By Opportunity: The Firehose of Ideas
Letter Twelve: Survive & Thrive: First Find Your Congregation Within
Letter Thirteen: Solitude and the Artistic Temperament
Letter Fourteen: Pointing Your Arrow: The Artist's Way to Happiness
Letter Fifteen: The Creative Impulse: Easy to Contain, Easier to Kill
Letter Sixteen: Artistic Depression: There's Nothing Romantic About It
Letter Seventeen: The Portable Artist: Creativity On-the-go!
Letter Eighteen: What Will You Make Your Life About?
Coda: Love Money Ambition: Finding Your Sweet Spot and Career
Appendix: Writing a Plan for Your Future – A Career Path Template (Downloadable)
- Letters to a Young Poet – Rilke
- Write Time: Guide to the Creative Process, from Vision through Revision-and Beyond – Atchity
- Writing Down the Bones: Freeing the Writer Within, 2nd Edition – Goldberg
- A Portrait of the Artist as a Young Man – Joyce
- The Artist's Way – Cameron
- Orbiting the Giant Hairball: A Corporate Fool's Guide to Surviving with Grace – MacKenzie
- Sonic Highways (show) – Dave Grohl and HBO explore music
- The War of Art – Steven Pressfield
- Tunesmith: Inside the Art of Songwriting – Jimmy Webb
image: my morning spot, john mcelhenney, cc 2014