The important thing is the work. You can learn every technique in the repertoire, talk about it, dream, fantasize, whatever you want to do--but the magic is in the effort. What am I talking about?
Every day for the past year or so, I've tried to make myself write something, anything. I'll be the first to tell you that it doesn't always come out. Some days I don't end up writing anything. Other days I write three or four posts (to be revised later).
When I go back and read my earlier work, I'm astonished at some of the things I published. Did I actually write that? Why did I word that sentence like that, it'd be much more effective like this, etc. More importantly, I'm able to see my evolution as a writer.
Much like those cliché "before and after" photos they show on late-night infomercials, I see the snapshot of my earlier work and it's not always great. But that's not the point. What's important is that day after day, week after week, month after month, and so on, I sit in front of my computer and tap tap tap away.
Words flying everywhere. Sometimes, they don't fly at all. And then when it's all over, I can sigh a breath of relief. Whatever itch inside me behooving me to write something subdues. Until the following evening that is, the whole cycle starts back up again. Tap tap tap.
There's no reward. I don't have ads on my website, and I'm not selling any classes, at least not yet. The value and fulfillment I find working on stories like this come from some other source. I'm not calling myself an artist, but perhaps that's one reason why creatives undervalue their worth so much, because to them, they'd do whatever it is they like doing for free. Why would somebody pay me $50K for this painting? I'd do this for free!
Every day is an opportunity to improve. It doesn't always have to be writing, but the act of honing a skill is an oddly satisfying feeling. When I say oddly, it's not that I don't know why I feel happy, I do. When you see your progress you feel motivated, more confident, the dividends begin adding up and there's an inner voice of triumph that says, "Yes! Keep going."
You could give up. You could ask, "why bother?" and you'd have a valid question. We practice hour after hour doing stuff that someday won't matter to anyone. Why on earth do we do it? And then I take a walk. On that walk I see a flower. And I ask the same question.
Two weeks later that flower won't be there. Nobody will know, no one will care. But while it was there, it shared its beauty with the world, whether or not anyone was looking. And having seen that beauty if only for a moment, I'm thankful. Thus, back to the question, "why bother"?
Why do we do the things we do? What motivates us to practice? We're no different than those flowers.