My boyfriend made me watch two videos last week. One was about a spoon-whittling course he intends to go on (why yes, you can be attracted to someone who gets a thrill out of turning a bit of bark into cutlery) and the other one was this.
Watch it. I urge you. It’s good.
I am totally enamoured with Ira Glass, so maybe I’m biased, but I think it’s pretty great.
If you didn’t watch it, the long and short of it is this: you’re going to be bad. Anything creative that you start, at first, is going to be bad. Your content doesn’t meet your expectations, it’s not exactly what you want it to be, it’s disappointing. But you have to just do. You have to push through it not being perfect and just do. Just do and eventually, it’ll get better.
It’s hard. Writing is hard. But for me, what’s even harder is just the doing. It’s not that I don’t get ideas. I do. I get ideas on buses and on walks and when I’m having dinner and last thing at night. The ideas excite me and then I can’t work out the style or tie the narrative in the cutesy little bow I want to and so I give up. I say a big no (can) do to the whole thing. My laptop is a graveyard offering its respects to unfinished blog posts and sketches and essays.
I’ve been thinking a lot recently about how some people doing creative work perhaps aren’t even the best at what they do but the point is that they’re doing it. Shamefully, I sit behind a screen and critique people’s writing; I roll my eyes at columns and blog posts and essays when really these people should be lauded. They are doing. Maybe it’s not great, but they’re doing.
Where does my lack of the drive to do come from? The pressure that it won’t be perfect.
I am a lazy perfectionist. I used to really wish that I was a perfectionist, that I wouldn’t do stuff half-heartedly or settle for under-seasoned stews or throw my decorative cushions on my bed rather than aligning them neatly, but I think I am actually a perfectionist, I’m just a really lazy one. When I don’t think a piece of writing will be perfect, I don’t write it. I’m scared that anything I write won’t live up to what I think I’m capable of. I’m scared I won’t get everything out on paper. I’m scared my writing won’t be relatable enough, not funny enough, not emotional enough. And so I do less than enough, I do nothing.
So where to?
Ira suggests a deadline. And what Ira says, I do (or at least, I bloody hope I will).
And so here it is; a promise. A promise of a post a week. One a week. It’s doable, even if the writing is shit. Even if it’s just an account of my day or a little sketch or anything. Just one a week.
Maybe it’ll be bad, but it’ll do.