Creating Things That Suck
“Don't think about making art, just get it done. Let everyone else decide if it's good or bad, whether they love it or hate it. While they are deciding, make even more art.”~ Andy Warhol
Lately, writing has been a chore. Between writing grants for my job and on the side in a freelance capacity, writing poetry, and writing content for this blog, I feel strapped for time and lack the mental space for new, interesting ideas. I barely have time to consume other content that might inspire an idea for my own content. Last week in particular, I felt an intense desire to discontinue this blog because I felt I had nothing interesting or important to say.
Therein lies the fatal flaw of so many artists: the belief that our art and/or voices don't matter.
Because our beliefs often manifest as truth, the idea that our voices don't matter can become a self-fulfilling prophesy. In a moment of doubt, I caught myself thinking, "What's the point?" only to immediately scold myself. If I think I have no worth as a writer, I have no worth as a writer, simple as that. If I want to be a writer but stop writing, I've taken myself out of the game. And the only reason I would take myself out of the game is the fear of not being good enough. If there's one thing I never want is to do, it's live a life rooted in fear.
I also realized that my perfectionism was getting in the way of productivity. I want everything I write and publish to be profound, insightful, educational, or inspiring. But sometimes, we need to write bad things to get to the good stuff. A few nights ago, I was working on a poem, and I cut out the first 10 lines. They were not good, and the poem was better without them. But, I needed to write those bad lines in order to get the *good* poem out. Therein lies another fatal flaw of artists (writers specifically): we self-edit before we even begin creating anything.
Below is an incredible bit from NPR's Ira Glass about the gap between the work we create as beginners and the work we want to be creating. Essentially, we begin creating art because we have good taste, but we need time (often, a lot of time) of intense creation for our art to become refined and for our taste to match what we produce. The only real way to make the long, arduous leap from beginner to expert is to practice, and the only way to practice is by doing.
In regard to this blog, I've created constraints that I know are artificial. I post a new blog every Thursday and Sunday, for a few specific reasons.
1. My small but mighty audience knows when to expect a new blog, and
2. I'm kept accountable. If this wasn't public, if I knew nobody was waiting for a post, I would feel less inclined to make myself write. And I know I need to write a lot so one day I will be able to create something I consider good and worthwhile.
Dan Cumberland writes, "In order to discover the true potential and beauty in what you do, you have to start by creating something that could be awful."
Accepting this has taken a huge weight off my shoulders. Sometimes, it is not easy to write. Often, it is incredibly difficult, especially when my writing requires intense self-reflection, or the understanding and distillation of a new or foreign topic. Sometimes, writing is hard simply because I am tired and uninspired. Inspiration is fleeting, so sustainable creation cannot rely on inspiration (although it never hurts be inspired). Creation is a practice, and practice is the only way to elevate a skill set. Some of my poems and blogs might be terrible, but chances are, if I write enough, an incredible piece of art will emerge. Until then, I'll keep plugging away, and you should too.
"To practice any art, no matter how well or badly, is a way to make your soul grow. So do it.”~ Kurt Vonnegut