There are three stumbling blocks that prevent me hitting the publish button or sometimes even picking up the pen, metaphorical or otherwise.
They are three questions.
Can I do this well enough and will it be good enough?
Can I make it and let it go out into the world?
Can I show this much of myself to the world, will anybody care?
These are questions designed to help me avoid risk. Which is stupid, because if I want to be in the business of ‘making’, then I want to be in the business of risking myself in vulnerable ways. I know that it’s stupid, so I thought I’d share my strategy for avoiding the trap.
There will always have to be bad writers, for they answer to the taste of the immature, undeveloped age-group; these have their requirements as well as do the mature. —-Nietzche
I hate the idea of not being good at what I do. Regardless of what I’m doing. My pride does cartwheels in the tension of doing something new without knowing whether it will be good. Logically, I understand that in order to be good, I must risk being other-than-good; but every time I open the page to write or try a new recipe, the process begins again.
Why is it sometimes hard to write? Because the risk is so great that it won’t be any good. That it will be too honest, too vulnerable. That people won’t engage or respond or understand me. So the questions run through my mind and my desire to avoid risk stops me in my tracks.
The better way to answer these questions is in editing, refining, fine tuning and optimizing. In my business, it’s called the process of iteration. We make something, we learn, we craft, we make it better. We make it again.
Will it be good enough? becomes How can it be better?
The other questions are not about the creation but about the creator. Ouch. Even in talking about vulnerability I have to be vulnerable.
I find myself wondering how those flawed and tuneless auditions for TV singing competitions make it to air – with all that bravado and self-confidence. It appears that there is no pride or ego to filter the risky and non-risky behaviours.
I’m learning that if I want to be truly vulnerable (and I do, because it seems to matter and connect more with people), I have to de-tune my ego too. I have to put away my pride and concern.
The easiest way I have learned to do this is by facing the consequences of risking something big. Really, in being more vulnerable than I want to be, I’ve learned that it is really not so bad. There’s not a single moment that I truly regret. A few painful bumps, for sure, but that’s to be expected as the rough edges are smoothed away.
It might sound a little mad, but truly – in being a little braver, in saying a little more, in choosing not to edit away the thought, the moment, the possibility.. I’ve learned that it’s rarely as bad as I thought. Mostly, I’m afraid of feeling hurt, feeling bad or feeling ashamed or embarrassed when my ego starts talking.
These ego-driven, risk-averse questions stop me from starting. Starting is the step that produces raw product that can be shaped, redrawn, remade, improved until it’s ready for the world. I can only be a writer, a maker, a speaker or a creator if I begin.
Here’s the strategy to overcome the questions:
Accept that the risk does not exist.
Until you make something, there is nothing that risk can be attached to. Once something is made and re-made, it is no longer dependant on you. It may carry the reflection of the maker, but it is a separate entity. So the risk (to your ego) does not exist.
So just make something, damn it. The risk is the art itself, the risk is the proof that you are creating something unique and authentic.