You Are What You Practice
I used to teach a food studies course, and I would ask students about the claim, “You are what you eat.” Usually, someone would say, “Well, if you eat doughnuts, you’ll be round and fat like a doughnut.”
I disagree. It’s not so automatic or simplistic. So, I’d then ask them to think about their goals in life and their best, most happy and successful selves. Then, I’d ask, “Can you eat in a way that helps fuel that ideal self? Can food help you achieve your goals? Can that be what it means that ‘you are what you eat’?”
The same seems true about art, you are what you practice. The work etches itself into your skin, from callouses caused by gripping pencils tightly to sore shoulders from slogging around film equipment. However, practicing by rote, like checking chores off a to-do list, does not transform you into an artist.
It’s a long, slow, but steady transformation to become what you practice and requires devotion to and trust in the process. So, your mindset matters. Your intention matters. Do you show up to your work passively waiting Someone Of Authority to appear and deem you an Artist? I used to do that, whining to myself, “I’ve been writing for years and years,” and look around for the Fairy Godmother Of Accomplishment to deliver some sign that I had finally arrived.
Daily practice becomes most dynamic and powerful when you come to it ready: eager to tackle what’s before you, patient enough to abide the set backs, and in love enough with your craft to wholeheartedly celebrate the moments when your work comes close to matching your vision.
Practicing daily with a wide open, vulnerable heart, an engaged and agile mind, and limber muscles sculpts you into An Artist, maybe to such a fine degree that the rest of us see it in you (see X). Your creative focus shows in the way you walk and talk, and eventually, all of your life is an extension of your craft.