Total Read Time: 6 Minutes
A dear friend of mine is in the middle of a career change. They are an artist who’s making a giant pivot in their output. During this pivot, they’ve kind of gone MIA on social media. The most interesting thing they said about why they’ve been less present on those platforms is that,
“the competition on social media to be intriguing and share the process in a creative way is one that I’m very scared of. I haven’t the slightest clue how to make it interesting… in terms of sharing the process and giving a deeper insight to my audience, I’m sacred because I’m afraid it will come off as uninteresting, potentially leading to losing fans due to that.”
I’ve been empathizing with that internal battle.
It’s abysmal, thinking about all of the people who are better than you.
Every day I face you
Imprisoned in distractions
Contrived by your perfect design.
My focus is like a pinball
Redirected by chutes and levers
Dirty dishes and unorganized shoes
The way they pile up at the front door
“Wouldn’t it just feel better to line th…”
No, not today
Today you lose
I found my way into this chair
I opened up my notebook
I wielded this pen
And with a freight train of inertia
Face the Toughest Competition First
There is someone who knows all of your moves before you make them.
Someone who is familiar with your work and makes you second guess your next project.
Someone who, despite all of the effort put in, you just can’t seem to please.
It’s YOU, you procrastinating perfectionist.
If You Are The Competition,
Then Everyone Else is Collaboration
An artist’s first obstacle seems to always be themselves.
How do you get over the fear of not being good enough?
Good enough for who?
Fear of who?
Get over what?
I’ll cover strategy in just a moment.
First, consider this:
Everyone is your collaboration.
What makes you think you have to be the best?
No one I’ve ever met listens to only one musician.
Or watches ONE tv show.
Or reads only one book.
There’s room for you in all of this.
Everyone is in flux. All of us artists are in this together. It’s not a competition with any one of us. It’s a competition with yourself. Your work will get seen if it’s good enough for YOU. You are making art for a reason. You have an eye for what YOU want to see.
“Be interesting by being interested.”
– Derek Sivers
The only reason your work won’t get seen, is if you won’t post it.
I really doubt your dream is to make the one best movie, or YouTube video, or album, and be done working for the rest of your life.
The whole reason you’re an artist is because you love making art right?
I love sitting down with my notebook and pen, not having a single clue what I’m going to write about, and somehow filling the page. It’s a process that just comes natural to me. I believe it comes natural to you too. It’s why you’re an artist.
You Have to Trust the Process
You know what you’re doing.
You know why you’re avoiding sitting down and getting to work.
You know what it’ll take to distract you over and over until you give up for the day.
That’s why you are your greatest competition.
So trust the process. Don’t talk yourself out of even trying. You love making art. Just sit down and try it. Every day.
Make art every day.
The world deserves it.
YOU deserve it.
Force Rough Drafts
Power through and pump out some art. Make a song. Write a poem. Take a photo and don’t edit it. Don’t edit any of it: the song, the poem, any of it.
Post it right when you have a tangible product.
The point here is to be imperfect on purpose.
The point is also to actually post your art.
You will see after you post something, there is absolutely no more writer’s block. You all of a sudden get a rush of external empathy and can see through all of your stubborn perfectionism.
You will see through the eyes of your audience and know exactly what you should edit next.
It’s worth mentioning… it will already be live, so urgency will force you to prioritize what’s worth your time. That way you’re not stuck for days like I’ve been before: staring at the same paragraphs, wondering how much longer until I delete this whole thing and start over.
It is truly hard enough as an artist to sit down and get to work. The world is ready for collaboration. There is no point in thinking of all your fellow artists as competition.