Updated: Jan 25, 2022
I snapped at a student the other day.
She told me something that yanked my crank. Some professional coach (life? business? something…) told her to “find her authentic self” and approach her singing “from a position of impactfulness.”
“Is this coach an artist, his own self, by chance”? I inquired. You already know her answer.
Of course she didn't get that sage advice from an artist! That's something that only someone who is not in the arts would say.
Because, as artists, we know that “finding your authentic self” is one of the rewards of art. It’s the stuffed bear you might win after you’ve thrown your baseball at a hundred thousand stacked milk bottles.
As artists, we know that it’s not possible to begin from a place of "impactfulness". We have to begin by trying to finish the dang song with all those eyeballs on us.
We have to keep showing up, keep breathing, keep our demons at bay, keep practicing, take criticism, seek instruction, be inspired by others, and keep going. And IF we do all that, then we MIGHT earn a state of mind and spirit that allows us to share our authentic self.
The truth is that, when the stars align, you do get to share your authentic self. The spirit of music flows through you to your listener, and it’s all worthwhile.
But that probably wouldn’t sell any self-help books.
A brave and influential woman in my life recommended one of the only self-help books I'll ever keep. (I've read oodles of them in my day, and have kept three. Three.) It's called The War of Art by Steven Pressfield. It puts into words (much better than mine) the notion I'm trying to convey here.
If you're a singer and you want to win the stuffed bear, read this book.