“If you’re alive, you’re a creative person.” – Elizabeth Gilbert
I call myself a writer, but if I am to confess and be brutally honest, there are days when I will look down on my writing and absolutely shock myself. I mean, I can write some absolute crap. Like, really bad. Like, it should be illegal to allow for any kind of writing utensils anywhere near my vicinity, enforced with the same kind of strict severity as a TSA agent spotting any liquid over 100 ml, that kind of bad.
Some might think: well if she admits that she sucks, guess that makes her not a writer then. I would respectfully (or after a couple glasses of something maybe not so politely) disagree. Can I call myself a writer, even on those days when the ideas do not flow any more than a clogged up drain will? Or when my old pal the English language decides to terminate our relationship, leaving me wordless? Why yes, yes I can. Because even on those days, I am still writing.
The job of a writer is to put pencil to paper as they say (or really, finger to keyboard, but that is just not as romantic, is it?). It is not in the job description that says you have to write something good. Good, or bad, is just a perception. It is nothing but a by-product, one that we, unfortunately, like to stake our work upon, to the detriment of creating the thing itself. The opposite of a writer, after all, is not a bad writer; it is a non-writer, aka one who does not write.
In our hyper-connected world, we like to overshare everything. But we are still human, we have our pride. Sharing generally only comes in the form of our best selves, with our darker, uncomfortable identities hidden further away from view. In that delicate space between showing off and trying to hide, we are more focused than ever on creating something for perceptions sake.
No one wants to announce a new project only to have it fail when the whole world is watching. So perfect has become the new yardstick against which we measure our work’s worth with. You say you make music? Then everything coming out of your Soundcloud better be worthy of a hit. You want to create a startup? Mark Zuckerberg better be knocking on your door for a job soon. This new mentality around bringing forth any kind of creativity into our world seems to be a matter of perfection or bust.
What does that mean for our creative selves? Those parts of us wanting to come out that is powered by something not conforming to any strict, coherent script falling neatly onto a Facebook timeline. Creativity does not bend by any such simplified rules such as what is good, and what is bad, what is successful, and what is trash. Creativity just wants to be released. And the only thing standing in its way is you, is me, is that nagging little voice inside that whispers what if it’s not good enough?
To hell with that voice, that arbitrary and meaningless chatter. You cannot confine creativity into such tiny conceptions as good and bad, it is like trying to capture the whole ocean in a bucket. Those two words cannot hold or define your creativity; they are senseless in comparison to it.
The only thing that you should be worrying about when you are living with your creative self, is to do your creative thing. Like the opposite of a good writer, the opposite of a good musician is a non-musician, one who does not make music. Opposite of a good entrepreneur, is a non-entrepreneur, one who does not make innovation. Whatever you do, the moment you hold yourself back from giving in to the fear of not good enough means that you are doing not enough, you are creating not enough. There can be no judgement on unfinished work, only an emptiness where it should have been. That is the only real judgement for you to fear – the very real concern of having something not being done, of not having tried. Not the paper tiger scare of something not being good, or even just plain being bad.
“You can measure your worth by your dedication to your path, not by your successes or failures.” – Elizabeth Gilbert
When creativity calls to you, you have only one answer to it: yes, you will do the work, or no, you will let it pass. There is no halfway; you cannot choose yes then try to work with the monkey of self-doubt constantly on your back, you will just get nowhere! Be brave. You are being directed into whatever calls to you for a reason, it chose you for a reason. Get out of your own way, and let yourself do the work you are meant to do. You have to do it. The world needs you to do it. Because if you don’t, it won’t exist, then all your worrying about how people will judge it will have been for naught anyways.
So stop waiting for perfect, stop waiting for what doesn’t exist. Settle for bad, accept terrible, shrug your shoulders with an apologetic smile at complete. utter. shit. You can aim for perfect and land only halfway, or just focus on done and see how far you may end up coming along anyways.
Whatever you do, just remember the golden rule – to go and do it!