You’ve probably heard about the blockbusting book Fifty Shades of Grey. It was propelled into the stratosphere of popular culture last year when a billion bored housewives realized they were being underserved in the pedestrian, soft-core, mommy-porn-lit market.
Naturally, some Big Brain Hollywood execs thought, “This would make a great movie! Like ‘Twilight’ for Soccer Moms. Only less sun-sparkles and more bondage!” And, just like that, they fired up the Movie Machine and set out for Cash Cow Adaptation Land.
Of course, the industry was abuzz with speculation on who would be cast in the steamy lead roles. First to be announced, filling the male lead role of Christian Grey, was Charlie Hunnam, who currently stars as the leader of a biker gang on the hit cable series, Sons of Anarchy.
As soon as his name was attached, the cybersphere exploded with the typical yin yang chatter of a zillion laptop commentators:
“He’s gonna ruin the whole damn film!”
“He can tie me up and spank me any time!”
“I’m going to assassinate the casting director!”
One mere month after being cast in a film franchise that would have turbo-charged his career into the realm of Mega Movie Stardom, Hunnam dropped out. He said that he was “overwhelmed” by the attention surrounding his role in the sexed-up flick.
In other words, Charlie Hunnam succumbed to the fear of the Mind Monster.
Artists face this dilemma all the time. Sometimes the Monster is provoked by outside forces, such as:
- Internet Trolls
- Gallery Directors
- Life Pressures
Other times it exists in the artist’s own mind in the form of:
- Low Self-Esteem
- Fear of the Unknown
The Mind Monster can stop us from doing great things, like starring in a game-changing, career-thrusting, blockbusting movie franchise. It can impeded our progress, and more detrimentally, it can deter us from shining our own unique, brilliant light on the world.
Artists are blessed with the gift of creativity, which is meant to be shared through the act of creative expression. But it is up to us to take decisive action and implement that expression. As with any journey, there will be roadblocks, obstacles, detours, false starts, adversity and filthy gas station rest rooms. Okay, that last one depends on what journey you’re on.
The point is, this path, this road, this journey is not a fast-track, slam-dunk, guaranteed success story. It’s an uncertain, exciting, crazy, overwhelming, thrilling, mundane, exhausting, uphill, one-day-at-a-time, gotta-make-it-work excursion.
Your dream of “success” – whatever that looks like to you – may or may not come true. But, simply living the life of an artist offers its own rewards, and should be enjoyed for the beauty and joy of the journey. It should be lived and relished and savored, and to hell with the critics and the naysayers.
It’s helpful to spend time planning your goals, so you know what it is you’re trying to achieve in your life and your art. This will help you make decisions that will get you closer to your goals, instead of making decisions based on how loudly your Mind Monster is growling.
Understand that your goals are flexible and may be revised as you go. Maybe Charlie Hunnam truly doesn’t give a hoot about starring in a multi-million-dollar trilogy. Or, maybe he let his fear get the best of him.
The Mind Monster is a powerful adversary, and can occasionally serve a purpose. But most of the time, it needs to be silenced and shoved back under the bed so you can go forth and do the creative work you were born to do.
How has your Mind Monster impeded your progress?
“Monster Under Bed” image ©2013 John Stiles.
Nikolas Allen is a Contemporary Pop Artist with a background in advertising, music and video production. He is passionate about art and marketing and wrote his first book, “Death To The Starving Artist – Art Marketing Strategies for a Killer Creative Career” to help ambitious artists reach a wider audience.