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Breakthrough Artistic Success IS Within Your Reach (Part 1)

Deep down, most of us dream of the big breakthrough–the NY Times bestseller, indie blockbuster, or viral hit song–but we don’t believe we can do much to create that success. 

That belief is wrong.

While we don’t control whether people publish our book or buy our art… there are specific things we can do to make it likely those things will happen–and happen on a scale big enough for massive success.

So let go of the belief that breakthrough success is a bolt of lightning: rare, out of your control, and unlikely to strike.

When art or writing breaks through to become a big critical or commercial success, there are actual, predictable elements that go into making a breakthrough success.

I’m going to talk about them in three parts. Today, part one. 🙂

Key to success # 1: 

Your art has to evoke a deep response from people. 

It’s not enough to write lyrical sentences or insightful scenes–your work has to matter to people. It needs to drawn them in, keep them captivated, and affect them deeply. 

As my writing teacher Michael Cunningham once said, “People don’t want to read your book. They want to get dinner, have sex, have a beer… you have to write something so compelling that they’re standing in the bookstore unable to put your book down even though they’re hungry and they’ve got a million things to do.”

Even the most talented writers and artists fall prey to this mistake: they don’t give people a reason to care about their work. 

I’ve been a writing teacher, an editor, a reader for a prestigious literary magazine, a member of a writing group, and a participant in more workshops than I can count. And, I will tell you this: there is a lot of work that’s very well written… but doesn’t draw people in. 

This is true for all the art forms.

It doesn’t matter how technically good your art is: if people aren’t engaged, you can’t achieve external success.

So, take an honest look at your art, and ask yourself: If I were a total stranger, would this draw me in? Would I stay with it? Would it move and affect me deeply? Would I remember it a year later?

If I were in a bookstore feeling tired, distracted, and irritated, would I put this book aside impatiently and leave the store? Or keep turning page after page, leaving my everyday worries behind as I got pulled further and further into the story?

If I were starting this film when I was hungry, my toddler was crying, and my husband was texting me–would I hit the stop button and go take care of those things with no regret? Or would I ignore my rumbling stomach, pull my toddler onto my lap, tell myself my husband could wait a few minutes, and keep watching, glued to the screen?

External success comes when you create something so compelling that people are drawn in and absorbed. They leave behind everyday life with all its distractions and choices–to enter the world you create with your art.

Their response comes back to us in the form of love, fans, word of mouth, money, awards, publicity, and more.

And yes, you have a say in this success: you are the vessel for the inspirational, moving art that exists within you. You are the one who brings it out.

Ready? Your people are waiting.


P.S. I’m working with a small group of writers and artists who are creating their breakthrough masterpiece. And yes, we talk specifically about how to create art that matters and draws people in. 

How do you go in and find what’s truly compelling within your work–and bring it out successfully? 

How do you find the deepest human truths in your work? (Whatever you’re working on, there’s a good chance you can go much deeper.) 

How do you get past the unseen emotional and intellectual blocks that keep you from going to those depths… so you can create the work that draws people in–and moves them so deeply that they recommend it far and wide?

Want to hear more? Email me.

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