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Real Artists Ship

“Inspiration is for amateurs — the rest of us just show up and get to work.

And the belief that things will grow out of the activity itself and that you will, through work, bump into other possibilities and kick open other doors that you would never have dreamt of if you were just sitting around looking for a great ‘art idea’.”

– Chuck Close, American artist who achieved fame as a photorealist through massive-scale portraits


Sidebar: This is the perfect song I’ve been listening to right now. Long Distance by The Districts. Give it a shout.


My excitement for writing lasted a year. That excitement degraded into tremendous apathy when I hadn’t “made it” at that point — whatever the hell that means. After this period of apathy, I had a period of rejuvenation. I was back into writing. For a few months. Just as quickly, the apathy set back in. There may be one or two more cycles of this before we end up back here: Rejuvenated. 

There’s a somewhat famous British songwriter named Alex Day. He’s openly admitted he’s gotten sick of music and abandoned it for a couple months. Then, he would listen to a song that made him think, “I have to be working, I have to be creating.” And he would jump right back into it.

That’s been my experience.

That’s how creation is. Whether it’s music, writing, sketching, videography — you’re going to have moments of love. You’re going to have periods of… Not really hate. But apathy. Uncaring. You’re going to have days where knitting words together feels like tearing brain cells out and grafting them onto a page. Not a pretty picture, huh? That’s the point.

 

“I’m past the suck!”

 

You’re not past the suck.

When everyone starts something new there’s implicit license to suck. You’re new. You’re going to suck. But, you work through the suck.

Some time passes. You get better. A few compliments come your way. Some money. A post spikes in traffic and it feels good. Really good. But, then the compliments stop for whatever reason. The spike returns to normal. The money stops. And you’re back.

And, you have some experience at this point. You’re thinking: I know how to put together content. I know how to hook a reader. I know how to tie-in quality images. Where are my accolades? Where are my compliments? Where’s my money?

Suddenly, you “know” things and there’s a different dynamic to your work. Suddenly, you give yourself expectation. If there are no compliments, accolades, traffic spikes, then suddenly, you suck. This is a phenomena I’ve noticed in other fields as well. Like meeting girls.

In the beginning, you assume you’ll suck. So you’re like, “Alright. No worries, this was expected.” Then, you read a few books about meeting girls. You kiss a few. You have some nice interactions. You spontaneously talk to a cute girl for six hours.

Suddenly, the bar is a lot higher in your head.

You have information. You’re more experienced. Suddenly, you have to nail that number-close. Suddenly, it’s not a good day if you haven’t had a three-hour conversation with a girl you just met.

Stop. 

I have to remind myself, “You have permission to suck.”

The most important thing is being at bat. The most important thing is saying, “Hi,” to that cute girl. The most important thing is shipping. Even if what you wrote feels like half-congealed drivel you’ve scraped off the inner plaque of your toilet seat. Even when you feel like that’s the kind of post you wrote. You still ship.

Steve Jobs said, “Real artists ship.” Especially when you don’t want to. 

Real artists ship.

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