“I want to write something, but I don’t know what to write about.”
“I want to be an artist, but I’m not very good at it.”
“I love making music, but the industry is ‘too hard to break into.'”
I hear excuses like these a lot. And yes, I’m going to come right out and call them excuses.
Of all the excuses creatives make, the “buts” are the worst. You want to do X, but Y. You want to be a successful writer, but you keep coming up with reasons not to try.
The more I blog about writing and type back-and-forth with fellow writers and aspiring creatives, the more I’m reminded that what stops people from making things — more than anything else — is the underlying fear that they’re going to do it wrong or aren’t going to do it well.
People spend way too much time thinking about the best thing to create. And not nearly enough time actually creating things.
A lot of people start blogging, for example, with a business mindset. They have to choose the perfect niche, the right posting schedule, the best blog theme. And there’s nothing wrong with having that kind of mindset if you really want to take your writing seriously from the beginning.
But success doesn’t happen unless you create things consistently over a long period of time while making small improvements along the way. And if you spend all your time trying to pick the right topics and make your blog look flawless, and never publish a blog post, you’re not actually getting any closer to creating something worth sharing.
Stop worrying about every small detail when you haven’t even started writing. Just start creating.
It’s not going to be perfect. It might even be terrible. So what? The only way to figure out what you want to write about and where it fits in the literary universe is to sit down and write. The fluffy details can come later. It’s been almost 10 years and I still haven’t properly categorized my blog posts. My blog is still doing fine. Because I spend my time writing, not on things that are, in all honesty, less important.
What you create is, in the grand scheme of things, less important than actually taking the time to create something. Exercising your creativity over time is how you grow as a writer and develop your skills. It’s how you figure out what you truly are and aren’t interested in, what you do and don’t want to write about or do.
Want to write something? Write something.
Want to be an artist? Make art. Terrible art. One day, maybe, really amazing art.
Love making music? Make music.
Those who succeed in their creative endeavors do so because they make an effort to start creating … and keep doing it until they’re good enough to succeed.
Be like them. Make stuff. Be creative. You have a lot to learn — and the best way to learn, when it comes to creativity, is by doing.
Meg is the creator of Novelty Revisions, dedicated to helping writers put their ideas into words. She is a staff writer with The Cheat Sheet, a freelance editor and writer, and a 10-time NaNoWriMo winner. Follow Meg on Twitter for tweets about writing, food and nerdy things.