Last week I made a post about how awesome you aren’t, but how (in my opinion) you can get there. In an attempt to follow-up on that, I’m gonna hit the first point on the list that I mentioned – doing a LOT of what you do, even if you suck, and especially if you suck a lot.
This is in part a “keep going no matter what,” and the “no matter what” encompasses literally everything, but I’ll try to break it up a bit.
A) Physical obstacles : You’re a painter, but you go blind. Well, I actually know a dude who didn’t actually start painting until he went blind. I’ve mentioned Jon before, and he’s crazy successful and skilled at what he does. He’s also one of the nicest dudes I’ve ever met. Anyhow, find new ways or new places to do what you do – it might even add an accent to your style that you enjoy. I maintain that if you’re serious and driven enough, you’ll find or create a way around your obstacles.
B) Mental obstacles : Most times this is a simple matter of self-esteem – don’t think you’ve got “what it takes” to write a novel or learn to dance? Honestly “what it takes” is time. Anyone can shoot out a novel, dance, run a football, etc. Doesn’t mean you’ll be good, but then that’s why you’re reading this post. Some of the world’s greatest artists did their best work while they were suffering from depression or anguish. Don’t go seek it out, but also don’t let it hold you back – use it, get it out into the world in an artistic format. You might be surprised at how powerful it is.
C) Fear : Mostly this is a fear of sucking, the “I don’t want to spend all this time doing something only to find out that I suck at it.” Baby, ain’t nobody gonna create something so awesome EVERYONE in the world loves it, especially if you’re just starting. Even Philip K. Dick had rejection letters all over his office, Star Wars wasn’t Lucas’ first film, and most of the popular bands you love today started by playing crap in tiny, nameless clubs. Be brave, but also be unashamed. The bottom line is that you keep making stuff, even if nobody ever sees / hears / experiences it.
D) Lack of inspiration : I separated this out from the “mental obstacles” section because I think the remedy is different : create trash. Start a project with no idea where it’s going. Try out a stream-of-consciousness format. Experiment with changing up your style. If you usually write poetry, do some fiction, OR MUSIC. Change gears, or to extend the metaphor, try a different type of car entirely. The worst that happens is you wind-up with something crappy that you never show to anyone (but I bet one day when you’re a big deal, people will fall over themselves to get their hands on it).
A note on the “I’m creating total trash” period. I feel the biggest hurtle that stops folks from doing something is how nobody wants to go through this. Sure, everyone wants to “skip to the good part,” but honestly this part is the crucible that purifies you. It sounds cheesy, but it’s true, and it also separates out those who are serious from those who aren’t. This is the period where you churn out a ton of crappy material is where you learn and hone your craft the most. Don’t be afraid of it and don’t try to skip it. Yes it will suck, and yes you’re likely to stay here for a while, but you’re more likely to get better in spite of yourself if you stay at it than if you quit.
If you’re really and truly passionate about what you’re doing, fuck what other people think and what might happen. Do it anyway and do it a lot. Do it in defiance of obstacles. Do it shamelessly.
Next week (maybe?) I’ll cover the second point – observe & experience.