Why artists need to spend more time alone
And piss people off a bit more
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Most people don’t realize artists need more alone time than everyone else.
We need time to go inside our minds. We need time to think. We need time to get shit done with no distractions. Paying our rent depends on our alone time.
And as Warhol said, it’s only by spending time alone will you have the inner strength and depth to build a following online. People follow unique thinkers who dare to be alone and lead, not people lost in crowds.
To make it as a professional creator, you need to spend a lot of time alone. This means 2 things:
You will need to become comfortable pissing people off.
You will need to become comfortable being alone.
Let’s start with how to do #1.
1. HOW TO BE COMFORTABLE PISSING PEOPLE OFF
You will need to put your art over other people. You will need to be ok making your girlfriend, family, and friends upset. You will need to be ok hurting feelings to achieve your mission. If you can’t do this, sorry you’re ngmi.
You don’t like hurting feelings? Sucks. It’s part of life. No one likes it.
But the truth is people will respect you more for following your mission than acquiescing to their feelings. Feelings are temporary, art is forever. (I’m not telling you to ignore your girlfriend for 2 weeks, but you will need to put your art first at times.)
This idea really hit home for me when I read this line in the forward to Steven Pressfield’s book The War of Art.
After I read this line, I realized I’d been hanging out with friends a lot of the time just to procrastinate writing bangers. And yes, it’s fun to hang out with friends, but your art must come first if you wanna be a professional creator. After reading that line, I suddenly felt ok turning down friends or family because I had writing to do.
See, nobody bats an eye when the hedge fund friend or investment banking friend turns down plans to get work done. But when an artist does it, they’re moody, obsessed, and insane. If the investment banking bros can miss a dinner to work, no one should bat an eye when the artist must do the same. They’ll say it’s different because you’re the one holding yourself to your deadlines as if that means it’s less important. Fuck that, it’s more important.
When I set my schedule for Cyber Patterns to be every Sunday and stuck to it no matter how late I had to stay up or what plans I had to miss, that’s when I finally started finding success online. You can’t succeed online without sacrifice. Unlike the investment bankers and hedge funders, you don’t have a cocaine-fueled Rolex-wearing boss named Chad screaming at you to finish your PowerPoint—which means you need to be your own cocaine-fueled Rolex-wearing boss named Chad screaming at yourself to get your shit done. 😂
And like a hedge funder or banker, this means you’ll have to cancel plans and piss people off. So it goes. That is the life of a professional artist.
How do you become comfortable pissing people off?
By putting your art and your mission first. If people get pissed off, it’s fine. You’re not a people pleaser. You’re on your mission.
Ok time for #2, the significantly harder thing.
2. HOW TO BE COMFORTABLE BEING ALONE.
Mac Miller’s song “Another Night” is about smoking weed alone. While I quit smoking weed 4 years ago, it’s still my go-to song for hanging solo.
There’s a big difference between loneliness and solitude. Loneliness is needy, solitude needs nothing. It means you’re ok being by yourself.
When I was smoking, I was cool being alone, getting stoned, listening to music, and going on nature walks. When I quit getting high though, I struggled being alone for a couple years. I was no longer numbing my thoughts. It took a long time of getting to know myself again to be comfortable being alone.
You don’t need to be off-grid on a farm in Wyoming to find solitude. And of course, you know the saying, you can be lonely in a room full of people. To me, a healthy schedule of solitude is somewhere in between—you can spend time alone working and thinking, but see your family and friends soon after.
The biggest way I find comfort being alone is being able to laugh at myself and not take myself so seriously. I’m a very silly dude especially when I’m alone. I sing along to songs, dance around the apartment, write, make collages, and record voice memos of weird thoughts.
In The Artist’s Way, Julia Cameron tells artists to go on solo "artist dates" alone every week. She suggests taking yourself to the park, to the museum, a sculpture class, a cafe, whatever.
When I read this book back in 2020 right after I quit smoking, I started doing just that. I’d go on nature walks, go to restaurants, and I even went to a vintage computer festival all alone. Even my worst "artist dates" have been better than many of my regular dates.
I hope you take yourself on an artist date this weekend. At first, it was might be hard. But it’s worth it when you become your own best friend.
Cool Shit Corner
3 links to help you create more cool shit:
💪🏻 I officially finished writing my book Memes Make Millions. It’s up for pre-sale and will be out October 15th.
🎙 My friend Jordan showed me Snipd for taking notes and clippings during podcasts. I now only listen to podcasts here.
🐶 I feel like I’m living in the future when I use Otter to transcribe voice notes while walking my dog.
Memes of the Week
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Me reading Cyber Patterns
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Create some cool shit this week.
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