In the wake of the end of year contest deadline announcements there comes the wave of artist anxiety and fear and sometimes anger and frustration over these contests. Being judged is never a comfortable experience, but I’m here to tell you all that if you’re experiencing a great deal of anxiety or fear over entering these contests, then you’re thinking about them entirely wrong. If the fear of rejection is keeping you from putting your work out there, going after opportunities, talking to the right people, or entering contests then you’re giving way too much power to chance.
I want to tackle a myth today. A really pervasive one that I think locks a lot of artists into justifying unhealthy behavior. The myth of the tortured artist. The belief that you have to suffer for your art. That you have to be a martyr to make good work. That art is only good if it comes from pain. I think we’ve got it backwards. The cart is before the horse, and it’s holding a lot of artists back from embracing (and enjoying) their creativity.