Artist Rehab


ave you given up on your art already?

You did all that you could. You had your shot. You tried. But. But.

There are too many people who are more talented, more disciplined, more beautiful, produce more, younger, smarter, whatever.

As I talk to more artists that come to Nashville, one recurring theme is evident. These artists need rehab! Artist rehab.

One artist came to town with big dreams. He hit the scene hard with incredible talent, a coffee job and sweat equity for a bit — to see what happens. You know where this is going.

Nowhere. Very very slowly. Until one day, my dear friend realizes that he’s in the same place he was when he arrived, and he’s watching the slow hand on the clock.

So he hangs it up, looks for a responsible career path, and looks to other pursuits in life. “I tried,” he says to himself. But.

Every time he goes to hear others play, his friends tell him he is better than 99% of them. And it kills him.

Another artist came to town in the same fashion. Co-wrote with everyone. Played all the popular joints. Heard all the praise from people who told her she has talent. And then it became a grind. She didn’t get into the magical world of “Something Happening.”

So she turns her back on her music, and she gets a day job pushing paper working with artists. And when she hears them play, it kills her.

Their stories could be so much better. So much richer. And yours can too. But.

Sand Castles

If I told you that you were born to build sand castles and that you had the rest of your life to build them, how would you live?

Would you quickly build a hand-sized mound, pat it down and declare yourself done? Would you try to build a grand castle and then give up when the waves washed it away? Would you start planning all the towers it would have one day when you saved up the money to hire trucks and cranes?

What expectations would you have? How long out would you look?

If you saw yourself as a sand castle builder and recognized that you would build sand castles for the rest of your life because that is what you were born to do, then why would you need other people to give you permission to start or stop building?

Why would something like waves prevent you from learning how to build moats and walls if you had the rest of your life to figure it out?

Why would you ever fail at being yourself?

To take it further, if God Himself put the desire in you to build sand castles, why on earth would you tell Him He messed up? That you really were made to dig ditches. Or comb the beach for buried treasure?


I hear a lot of artists, myself included, use the excuse that they just need that special thing to get started. That fancy journal to start writing. That camera to start shooting. That website to start blogging. But we would be wrong.

What we need is to get moving. Start creating. Start being who we are. Start doing what we do.

Without movement, we sit in the driveway. Our view out of the windows doesn’t change. We don’t get momentum cruising down hills or inspired by the sights and smells of the landscape.

We grow stale, waiting for that elusive thing. The thing that will start our engines, put gas in our car, and drive us somewhere. Probably to the place called Something Happening. But.

You cannot steer a parked car. Automobiles were born to drive. Mobile is part of their name. Create is part of yours.

And if you have given up on your art already, and you are not dead yet, then you already know where to take your But.

Keep driving and keep building, no matter how many dead ends you take or how many waves wash your sand castles down.

Why? Because it is part of who you are, and no one can stop that.

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5 Comments Artist Rehab

  1. Adam

    This is good stuff, I have actually been wrestling with this a lot recently because I have felt called to ministry for some time now. I am “in” ministry, but I am in the track of ministry that man has always told me I should be. There is a certain order to how man has made ministry. However, God’s Spirit is leading me into His ministry…and that is scary, uncertain (although it is), and stretching. I think back to how many times I have walked away from what God was leading me to do because the man made pathway was the “only way” to do it. Thanks, good stuff.

  2. Jeff Dolan

    I’m glad it helped you on your journey Adam. Remember, Jesus didn’t get his pharisaic degree card punched before starting out. Anyone can be “in ministry” when they love people.

    It sounds like you just have to decide which way you want to love people first. You can always change your mind later because it all ends up in love.

  3. Maria Brophy

    “Without movement we sit in the driveway” what a great visual to demonstrate how we get ourselves “stuck”! I, too, have been one to wait for that perfect journal before I start writing! You nailed it. This is a great reminder to just keep moving, creating and building. Love it!

  4. jas patrick

    Good read, Brother. Pretty uplifting and empowering stuff. It’s cool to come across a “positive” blog every now and again; so well done, Sir!
    Keep em coming!

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