If You Don’t Take a Deep Dive, You’ll Never Really Learn What You Are Capable Of

4 min readSep 19, 2020
Photo by Mohamed Ben Zineb on Unsplash

If you create to learn about yourself, going deeper is essential

If you’re an artist, it is a solo gallery show. If you’re a writer, it’s a book. Musicians? An album’s worth of original music, recorded and distributed. These are deep creative dives and they separate the pros from the amateurs. Here’s why.

You learn a lot more about yourself

The effort required to do a long form creative effort is a totally different experience than doing small things here and there. It marks the leap from amatuer to professional. I have nothing against being an amatuer but I still encourage any creative person to try something more challenging within your discipline. Not only will you have an intense learning experience, you’ll find things within yourself that you may never have expected.

Doing something like writing a book or putting together enough original artwork to carry a solo gallery show requires a degree of commitment to both your ideas and skill level that shorter, one-off projects lack. You’ll encounter doubt, frustration, moments of great clarity, and ultimately, an appreciation for the depths you are able to tap into when you push your limits.

Themes emerge that may drive your future work

One of the big differences you find when you start a more ambitious project is the emergence of a theme or themes that hold to work together. Some may consciously choose a theme while others will find one they have not expected. Themes can be general like ‘the unreliability of memory’ (one I find constantly in the background of my fiction) or specific like ‘an exploration of racism in liberals’ that may build on something topical. We often see visual artists and filmmakers being in the forefront of theme-driven work because it gives the project a unifying framework. A framework like this gives you the ability to build a story for the audience, one that unfolds as they absorb the work.

Thinking thematically is not a must but it is often the thread that keeps you moving towards completion. And the ability to complete a complex solo or group project is an amazing…


Mastodon: @martinedic@md.dm, Writer, nine non-fiction books, two novels, Buddhist, train lover. Amateur cook, lover of life most of the time!