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Be Realistic Tomorrow, Daydream Today

by Shane Mehling
creativity, featured

Daydream Vacation

There are times where every artist has to deal with cold, hard reality. Many factors in life, despite our best efforts, bring us back down to earth and show us that a wild fantasy of ours will not come true: that painting will probably not wind up in the Guggenheim, that photo won’t go insanely viral, your book will not wind up as a New York Times best-seller.

And this kind of pragmatism is necessary — the less you keep yourself from getting carried away the more time you can dedicate to working, to making the next practical step. If you think you will magically be able to live the rest of your life in a Manhattan high-rise, spending the morning working on your brilliant art and the night hobnobbing with celebrities, than the real opportunities may be passing you by.

But that doesn’t mean you shouldn’t daydream. In fact, you should do it right now.

We have been taught not to get our hopes up, but of course it’s completely natural to have those moments of pure elation and expectation. It’s one of the best things in life, and you shouldn’t be ashamed of it — but you need to make sure you’re getting it in the right doses.

Artists, being the creative types they are, tend to think grandly on both sides of the spectrum. That’s why when we feel incredibly positive about something, we have to temper it by thinking about the worst things that can happen. And then we go back and forth on this over and over until we have something new and the cycle ramps up again.

But instead, when you finish something, give yourself a set amount of time, a day is just fine, to overdose on hopefulness. Imagine that it will be a massive hit, you’ll be a critical darling and soon your phone will be ringing off the hook with people who just want to know how you were able to pull it off. Throw out any doubt and feel like a true superstar.

Refuse to believe there is anything wrong and don’t feel guilty about it. Don’t allow any despair to hit you. But then, like getting back from a vacation, when you wake up in the morning, look at your life through glasses that aren’t so rose-colored. It’s time then to get back to work.

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Shane Mehling

Shane Mehling is a freelance writer and editor who plays in noiserock bands.