Taste

“Nobody tells this to people who are beginners, I wish someone told me. All of us who do creative work, we get into it because we have good taste. But there is this gap. For the first couple years you make stuff, it’s just not that good. It’s trying to be good, it has potential, but it’s not. But your taste, the thing that got you into the game, is still killer. And your taste is why your work disappoints you. A lot of people never get past this phase, they quit. Most people I know who do interesting, creative work went through years of this. We know our work doesn’t have this special thing that we want it to have. We all go through this. And if you are just starting out or you are still in this phase, you gotta know its normal and the most important thing you can do is do a lot of work. Put yourself on a deadline so that every week you will finish one story. It is only by going through a volume of work that you will close that gap, and your work will be as good as your ambitions. And I took longer to figure out how to do this than anyone I’ve ever met. It’s gonna take awhile. It’s normal to take awhile. You’ve just gotta fight your way through.”

― Ira Glass

The Clock

Our art carries the intention to serve a purpose, but sometimes we try too hard and the art becomes lost in translation. Incidentally, we find our ourselves expanding the effort/work to fill that established time frame. Overplan and overcommit to completing a task within a certain period of time and you suddenly find yourself unproductive.

Another issue with the strategy isn’t that there is an agenda or a plan to completion, but rather the only accountability available is a loosely imposed time constraint. The effective, productive, approach is when we operate without inhibition. To achieve that we need self-imposed limitation.

Remove flexibility, remove comfort, and ultimately remove the ‘safety net’.

Why? The more restrictions and limitations, the more we stimulate and push our creative self.

Here are a few not so obvious ways to lessen comfort and increase discomfort: 

  • Remove the charging cable from the laptop.
  • Work in a place that closes at a specific time and then set your goals accordingly.
  • Have a goal to try and finish something 3 hours sooner than originally planned.
  • Pretend that the people you are surrounded by are holding you accountable.
  • If the work doesn’t require the use of the internet, turn off your wifi.
  • Imagine work as a performance piece and not just ‘doing work’.

 

‘They’re on to me…’

Impostor Syndrome. The term suggests feeling inferior syndrome can often lead to projecting a self-image that is larger than what we are. In reality, we all suffer from the fear of being found out and the ‘syndrome’ itself manifests itself as much as we allow it to. Rather than catastrophize and ruminate, find a healthy way to validate what you already know ; you deserve the recognition and know a great deal!

Here are some ways you can combat and correct Impostor Syndrome:

1.) Mentor. The act of coaching others to learn or develop through your own experience and knowledge is a great way to eliminate self doubt and reinstate confidence.

2.) Write down your achievements and look at them. Think about the experience surrounding each success and how you have evolved over time. You will feel a sense of pride and accomplishment.

3.) Talk it out. You are not the only one. You are the not the first. You will not be the last to feel what is very normal to feel. Having an open, objective, discussion with someone you confide in will help ease some of the doubt. Additionally, it will reveal that 99% of the other over-achieving perfectionists are similarly challenged.

4.) You will not get it right on the first try. That doesn’t make you an idiot and it doesn’t preclude you from being a genius, either. Do not assume that the rate of success over the rate of failure defines you. An impostor only claims success. A balanced and highly capable individual will openly admit to both success and failure.

5.) Be vulnerable. You’re not an impostor but you’re not an expert, either. Don’t believe it and don’t submit to the notion that there are genuine experts in the world. An expert is someone who refuses to read another book. The actual, life long expert, is the life long learner. There will always be someone who knows more than you and someone that is going to be better than you. However, you as your own individual will always carry an enormous wealth of knowledge and experience that the world can benefit from. Believe it and never stop learning. Allow yourself to learn and be vulnerable.

‘Generic’

What is generic? Generic relative to what exists on the market? Generic relative to what we know from our own experience? The issue isn’t with what is or isn’t ‘generic’, the problem we face is being able to eliminate self-doubt during the creative process. There is a time and place to be endlessly inquisitive, but there is no place for over-thinking when we are actively creating.

A tough and often overlooked discipline is learning how to develop boundaries between our various mental states. Never ‘think’. Do. Allow yourself to commit to every idea that naturally flows through you and execute it without hesitation. The art is not limited to the final product, but rather the process we struggle through to arrive at a destination.

Let’s be clear from the beginning; It’s an ugly business.

It is indeed, a very ugly business. Never, ever, let the industry tell you how to live. If you want to make a living writing music, do it but do it on your own terms. If you want to work a day job and still crank out top-notch material, that is your right and you’re entitled to be happy doing it. Remember that at the end of the day you create art for yourself.