Sometimes other people’s art – their plays, their food, their books, their beautifully inspired work – walks next to me like a comfortable friend. I am open to his influence, small in her presence, and happy to be so. When I am free and in good places, I trust her art and look to her to learn more of myself.

But there are those other times when their plays, their food, their books, and all that beautifully inspired work stands heavy on my chest. And just when I find a way to breathe shallow under the weight of it, when I squeeze out an extra hour of work, when I think I’ve got a crazy wide-eyed plan to catch up, they start to jump on my rib cage with all their successes.

Instead of a friend, their art becomes the enemy and I’m certain their good work guarantees I will never work again. The more I think of how much they are shipping and launching and producing and unveiling, the less I’m able to breathe.

When the art others make begins to terrify rather than motivate, it means you are normal. But if you want to create art that matters, something has to change. And the number one thing that works for me is to stop.

The art has become too important.

It seems counter-intuitive to stop just when you’ve convinced yourself you are already so very far behind. But stopping is really the only answer, because to carry on is to become a maniac work-aholic. To carry on is to worship the art rather than the Artist with a capital A. To carry on is to be pushed around by fear.

Fear drives out the love. When you work from fear, there is no love in your work. And we don’t want your loveless art.

So give the world and yourself a gift, and stop.

You are the beloved. So take some time to be the loved.

The fact that you need time to be the loved means you are human. And we want art that comes from human hands inspired by a capable God. Otherwise you will make mediocre art at best. If mediocre art is your goal, you can most definitely achieve it. Along with maybe a heart attack.

Here are 14 ways to make mediocre art – I wrote these last year but they came to mind again yesterday and I thought they were worth repeating. Be the loved, friend. It really is the most important thing.