Jeff Goins’ newest book, Real Artists Don’t Starve: Timeless Strategies for Thriving in the New Creative Age is written to challenge those of us who have ever wanted to do something creative. It is a fun, informative, and challenging read.
Have you ever talked yourself out of writing a book by saying, “I don’t really have anything to say?”
Have you ever pushed aside the idea of starting a business by saying, “That is too much of a risk?”
Maybe you’ve always wanted to learn to play an instrument but just never got around to pulling the trigger and starting.
Jeff provides timeless principles that are illustrated from the lives of people that he interviewed or dug out of the annals of history. Real Artists Don’t Starve is divided into three sections: Mind-Set, Market, and Money. Each chapter deals with common myths about creative people and anyone who thinks they may have something that someone else would want to buy.
One of the chapters in the “Mind-set” section deals with the importance of being an apprentice. The myth is that, “The starving artist believes that talent is enough.” Instead, Goins talk about how the most successful creative people have honed their craft, not in solitude but under the watchful eye of a “master.”
We have all heard about the famous artist, Michelangelo. In fact, he is probably one of the most successful and well-known artists in all of history. What we often forget, however, is that Michelangelo was an apprentice first and developed his skill by working with a master, Domenico Ghirlandaio. How does this idea of being an apprentice first apply to us today?
It might mean spending a few years working for a company that is similar to the business you want to start. It might mean taking a course with someone who is an expert in the field that you are interested in. It might mean reaching out to that writer whose work you admire and seeing if they will meet with you. As an apprentice, Goins reminds us that, “apprenticeship requires three important traits: patience, perseverance, and humility.”
In the “Market” section, Jeff discusses another often overlooked principle that most of the successful artists live by: Collaboration. The myth is that, “The starving artist works alone.” Goins relate the story of C.S. Lewis, J. R. R. Tolkien and around twenty other writers who met weekly for seventeen years. The group came to be called the “Inklings.”
These men would discuss what they were working on and read sections of their work to each other. Of course, we know of Tolkien’s books, The Hobbit and the Lord of the Ring series. Many of Lewis’ works were birthed out of these discussions with the Inklings. Many other famous authors were a part of this group.
There is an ancient proverb that says, “As iron sharpens iron, so one man sharpens another.” That is the power of collaboration. Even in cases of people who like to work by themselves, most understand the power of having someone else’s opinion on their work. As C.S. Lewis said, “The next best thing to being wise oneself is to live in a circle of those who are.”
Modern writers are a great example of this. It is to think of them laboring alone in front of their computer. This is not inaccurate. For the finished product, however, almost every successful writer utilizes an editor, beta readers, and maybe even a designer to help them with cover art or formatting. The book that is eventually released usually has had several people’s input.
Writing groups, entrepreneur support groups, art studios, or even a fitness center can provide a community in which we can all grow and get better. Arnold Schwarzenegger was one of the most successful bodybuilders of all time. A quick perusal of his career, however, showed that he trained with other prominent bodybuilders as they all prepared for competitions. They pushed each other to get better.
Real Artists Don’t Starve- Timeless Strategies for Thriving in the New Creative Age would be a great book for you to finish 2017 with or start 2018 with. Jeff Goins has given us a gift in this book and I hope you will take advantage of it!
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