Question: I read your answer last week to the question of what your single best piece of advice would be to someone who’s feeling really down. I thought what you said was outstanding. (For the occasional deep bummer/angst, I prescribed telling oneself, “There is nothing at all wrong with feeling exactly like I do right now.”) It got me wondering what you might have to say about something I think about all the time.

I want to be an artist — a great artist, a real artist, an important artist. If I were to be perfectly honest about it, I guess I’d have to admit that what I really want is to be a famously successful artist. Without boring you with the whole story of my life, let me just ask you: What would be your single best piece of advice for someone who wants to be a great artist — or, at least, the best artist they can be? THANK YOU!

Answer: So, that’s really four separate questions: Famous, Great, Successful and The Best You Can Be are four totally different lanes on the freeway of Artists’ Goals. I’d give different advice for each of those goals.

But right off the bat, my first advice to you would be: Pick a lane.

I’d further advise you to make the lane you pick Being the Best Artist You Can Be. That’s the slowest lane, for sure. But it’s the only one to be on. Those other three lanes go straight to nowhere.

Fame is like cotton candy: It’s got no substance, seems forever about to vanish, makes you crazed for more of it and gets you insanely amped up and jittery just before it causes you to crash.

“Great” is a term so relative that in and of itself it has zero meaning. What defines a “great” artist? Great to whom? Great by what measure? By how much money it makes? By its impact on…