The first trick is to not let the depression of not making it kill you. Everything else is easy in comparison.
I have no idea how to make it as a writer and/or artist. I have been trying for over two decades and am only a bit closer than I was ten years ago. I have tons of unfinished novels and graphic novels and short stories just sitting there waiting to be edited and sent out into the world. But for whatever reason, I have not been able to finish any of it.
I write these blog entries (or what I like to tell myself are essays) because it is an easy way to create something and be done with it. But at the end of the day self-publishing these blog entries (essays) amounts to nothing. I am no closer to reaching my goal of making it as an writer and artist than I was decades ago. If anything, blogging just slows that process down.
So who am I to write about making it as a writer and/or artist? Nobody. I have no idea how to do it. For me, it is like trying to solve a crossword puzzle that is in a language I do not speak. I just can’t seem to figure it out.
But if I do know something about something, what I know something about is the process involved in making it as a writer and/or artist. I know this part of the work very well because I have been stuck in the process for the past twenty plus years.
The one and most important thing that I want to say about the process involved in maybe one day making it as a writer and/or artist is that it is a real son of a bitch. It will never leave you alone. It is like an itch that you can’t scratch. You will always feel like you should be working on something. That is ok though. As annoying as it is, when that goes away, you are done.
As long as you still have this unscratchable itch to write and/or make art, to be somebody as an artist and/or writer, the hardest part is keeping that itch alive. To keep the itch alive you must be fully committed to it. You may become a doctor, a business manager, a real estate agent, a psychotherapist, a waiter, a police officer, a teacher and on and on. After all, we all have bills to pay if we want a decent life along the way. But you must see these jobs as just a way to buy time. You are never able to fully commit to any profession other than that of being an artist and/or writer. Whatever you do for money or whatever schooling program you may be in, if you want to ever make it as a writer and/or artist, you have to always see these things as just a way to buy time.
Everything the writer and/or artist does prior to making it as a writer and/or artist is just buying time. You are just fooling people just enough so they will pay you to do something but your heart is never really fully in it. The moment your heart is fully in doing whatever it is you do to make money, you are finished in your process of ever really making it a writer and/or artist.
This is the hard part. Hard because most will never, ever make it as a writer and/or artist. You will just be buying time for your entire life. Some, the few, will make it and even if they are in their sixties when they do, it will feel great. But most will never make it. I am probably one of them who never will. But by just living a life where you are buying time so that you will not be fully suffocated by economic demands and end up giving up on your dream of one day making it as a writer and/or artist, I think is worth something in the end. In the end, what will matter most is that you stayed true to yourself. That you continued to try. That you stuck with it. And even though a lot of depression will come along with your lack of success and the hardship involved in continually trying but not getting anywhere, the depression and despair will ultimately (if you are lucky) be the fuel that keeps you true to your vision.
This is how I guess one makes it as a writer and/or artist. You must remain true to your vision. You must buy time and be prepared to lose everything. You must find ways to cope with the depression so it does not end up killing you (and your vision) too soon. And if you keep at it, if you keep slaving away and are lucky to live long enough, maybe you might just make it as an writer and/or artist someday. Maybe not. But that is not what will matter in the end, I suspect.