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  • Bianca Vinther

How to be a process-oriented artist

Are you process or outcome-oriented?

Every now and then, it’s good to remind ourselves of our insignificance. There’s so little we can actually control because there’s something out there, something we’re all part of and bigger than ourselves that has the bird’s eye view. Does this thought destabilise you? Don’t worry. A different attitude towards life and the art-making process can put everything back into balance. At least for a little, precious while …

If you want to overcome artist block, unlock your artistic creativity, or just feel more inspired as an artist, you have to let go of control. Think process, not outcome. That’s a pretty brave choice to make. And it sounds simple enough, but how can you do it? Find my answer below.

Say “Yes” to the present moment and “No” to anticipation

When I first asked myself this question – how to focus on the creative process, not the end result – I didn’t have an obvious answer. It felt discouraging to me. In spite of that, I made a choice: to learn the art of surrender through the exploration of possibilities that the process of making art could offer me. I sticked to my choice like glue until I broke through the wall of resistance and control.

But I wouldn’t have taken this decision, and I wouldn’t have kept with it without the contribution of a little hero – my daughter. She gave me the kick that drove me on.

This is the story of her relationship with music – an important life lesson for any artist.

My daughter started playing piano at an early age because it fascinated her. When she played piano at home or in front of her teacher, she played it with much joy. When friends or other members of the family were around, she suddenly blocked. Her hands played the scores mechanically with lots of hesitations and mistakes. The magic vanished.

What sparked her joy when playing or simply improvising on piano in her comfort zone (which is not always a bad thing, by the way)? And what killed that joy when she played music in front of an audience she wasn’t used to?

In the first case, she played piano with no end in mind. With no anticipation or expectation whatsoever. She simply enjoyed the present moment.

In the second case, a disturbing performance anxiety creeped in. Because she thought of the end result. She anticipated both the outcome and the judgmental reaction of her audience.

As soon as she understood that music is not a performance, a brilliant result, or something outside herself that she is expected to deliver to a group of highly critical and hostile strangers, her mind relaxed.

My daughter understood that music is a gift for people, which can only come from a place of wonder and curiosity for the magic of sounds and the instrument that makes them. And, like any gift, it can only be a heartfelt, generous, authentic token of love. And an expression of one’s inner Self. Just like drawing, painting, or any other forms of art.

Performance anxiety is a false fear. The fear of a ghost. Anticipation is absurd, for “you can’t tell the night from the early morning”, can you? Therefore, I urge you to stop the mental cinema (we call it “Kopfkino” in German). Say “No” to anticipation.

Making art with the end in mind, in fact doing anything against a clear, concrete result with the will to secure the best possible outcome are the enemies of creativity, possibility, and life itself. Remember: art always follows life and the course of change. Because art is