Prior to publishing this website, its first home was in my head. For months I spent every ounce of my free time refining it, saving money for it, and against my better judgement, obsessing over it. I cradled this project like an overprotective mother to a newborn baby. In my mind, it was perfect and I wanted to bring it up right. But the longer I held on, the more of my heart I gave, the larger it began to grow. Inevitably, it became so heavy that I didn’t have enough power to support it. That’s when the fear began to kick in.
If you are a creative person, or wanting to pursue creative passions, don’t make the same mistakes I did. When I was putting together this blog, there were days when I would just spend hours agonising over one blog post, writing and rewriting until I had half a dozen different iterations but none that I liked. Paragraphs and sentences would get stuck in my head; ones that I wanted to use but had no place for, and others I hated but couldn’t think of anything better to replace. It haunted me so much I ended up scraping it all. My final version was something I threw together in one hour tops.
The thing is, I was always of the mind that writing was a job with occupational hazards; you pluck parts of your soul and sew them into your plots. You give yourself away to inject life into your creations. And so, I did just that. I gave and gave and gave until I had nothing left to give. People tell you to persevere in the face of trying times, and I did. They tell you that creativity is a skill that is honed over time, and so I invested in it. But nobody told me (although I will tell you now) that art in its beginning stages is a worthless chase for perfection. Your mind may hold the most grandiose ideals, but what you’re left with will always be sub-par.
It’s akin to getting attached to a boyfriend or girlfriend; the higher your standards are, the more your relationship means to you, the faster it eats away at you over time. If you aren’t careful, it will consume you entirely and there will be nothing left… except fear. You know, people always say that fear only exists in your mind. It’s supposed to help make you feel better, but how do you explain the twisting feeling in my stomach? This knot in my heart? Remind me how something so real can be a figment of my imagination?
It’s never easy to explain; you have fears of facing hate for something nobody has seen yet, you fear letting people down even though they don’t harbour expectations, you fear that you’re wasting your breath by not living up to your own potential, and you fear that death is coming for you when you haven’t achieved anything with your life yet. But perhaps what hurts the most is knowing that it is all in your mind, and the person you’re most afraid of letting down is yourself.
Being creative in the first place is fundamentally vulnerable. I won’t lie that I become more sensitive to things when I am writing, but it’s impossible to create anything good if all you have is pretense. I’ve always believed in that. Looking at the way this fear has affected me, however, I don’t think the way I’ve been going about this is right. It’s not enough to acknowledge that fear is there and persevere through it. Rather, if I let it whisper the poison into my ears, I have to learn to STOP believing in it.
I think there’s a point in every creator's life where they just have to start being stubborn about what they want. If you want to create a video, create the damn video. If you want to write a commentary piece, write the damn commentary piece. At that point it shouldn’t matter whether it was executed well or not. The point is that you did it, you got over the first hurdle, and now you can work on improving. This is a mindset I still struggle in adapting on a daily basis, so my pep talk may not mean much, but I thought (selfishly) that I would feel better about it if I shared this with you. And I do.
I’m still going to be facing a lot of these fears as I continue to create new content for you; writing this post doesn’t change that. But what it does solidify is my willingness to remain healthy, both physically and mentally, while pursuing this project. And so, I created something that I thought would help:
ONE: Creativity is a habitual act; partake in it regularly and frequently
TWO: The value of what I create is not equivalent to my value as a person
THREE: There is value in originality, but there is even more value in sincerity
FOUR: The only person I can compare myself to is the person I was in the past
FIVE: Dreaming is one thing, doing is another
SIX: When in doubt, read Ira Glass
As Ira Glass said so himself, “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 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.”