Sunday, October 13, 2013

Of Course You Can

This is a quibbly, nitpicky thing, but I really wish people - generally beginners - in the arts would quit asking "Can I do <X>?"

Of course you can do it.

What you should be asking is: Should you do it? Do you have the ability to do it effectively? Even if done effectively, will it achieve the goal you want? What will be the consequences?

Naturally, a couple of the above are technically impossible to answer accurately, such as the "do you have the ability..." one. Can't know until you try - and even then, you'll get mixed reactions.

The "Can I..." question smacks to me of asking permission, and for some reason that really gets under my skin. I realize most people are probably actually asking "Can I... effectively?" which is an altogether more productive line of inquiry. Even then, though, the answer is almost certainly "Yes, if you're good enough."

So I suppose what I'm really trying to encourage artists to do is forego asking the "Can I" question. Instead, do whatever it is you wondered about, and do it as well as you can. Then take that work to people whose opinions you trust, and ask this question instead:

"Have I done <X> effectively?"

Then all you have to do is reconcile the many conflicting opinions you'll get in return...