I’ll give you a hint: it’s not getting an MFA (though that can be great for a person in the right mindset and with the right intentions).
The most important thing a working artist can do is their inner work. That’s the truth. First off, your inner work becomes a large source (if not the only source) of your artistic material. As you discover and transform yourself, you can offer that much more when you walk into a room, sit down to write, paint, or edit some film.
I think a big thing about adults is that we don’t realize how much our sh*t shows up–everywhere. If it’s been 20 years since you’ve examined your belief systems about what’s possible in your life and in the world–it shows up in your work, in your definition of “success” and likely keeps you from achieving the things you say you want.
This is kinda preachy, but I feel like preachin today: I truly believe that if you’re an artist in the world right now and your #1 priority is not your own blossoming self-awareness, self-love and self-care, you’re in trouble.
If you don’t have a spiritual posse, you’re also in trouble. Whatever you would call a connection to something other than yourself–nature, the universe, love, a child’s laugh–whatever you call that thing, it should be your priority to develop that relationship. That is your actual job.
Maya Angelou famously told Oprah that she never leaves the house without bringing all of her ancestors with her. Bringing somebody or something with you. Come home. Go within. Repeat.