(Welcome to APADO, where I attempt to post once a day for all of October: A Post A Day – October, that is the last time I’m spelling that out. I’m making more rash promises than Josef Stalin but let’s see how far I can get.)
(also this post might be inspirational? how did that happen)
I want you to go on a quick trip down memory lane. Remember the first time you tried to be creative? And how good it felt when you signed your first drawing, finished your first story, threw your first paint-dipped potato at the wall?
It felt good, didn’t it? You were proud of what you made, weren’t you? Even if it was pretty bad-looking, there was something about it that you liked. Maybe it was the excitment. The raw creativity. Or something similarly poetic that I don’t have the aptitude to make up.
Now, let’s flash forward a few weeks. Months. Years. If you’re anything like me, you’re discouraged, burnt out, and wishing you could do it better.
It’s normal to feel that way.
I struggle with self-confidence and patience. There are times when I want to just throw in the towel and be done with everything I do, just because it isn’t exactly the way I want it to be. I have to remind myself that I’m still learning. I’m always learning. And that I’m never going to go anywhere sitting around moping about it.
Big Secret No. 1: You have to want to improve.
In this day and age, we’re told quite often that we’re perfect just the way we are.
I’m not saying that we’re not, but that kind of thinking tends to trap us into never doing anything with our lives.
You are perfect. But what you do needs work.
If you want to be mediocre, you can give out half-polished work. You can “do what you can” and never want anything more. And spend the rest of your days as an amateur.
Or you can give it your 110% best. You can go the extra mile. You can keep going, even when it gets tough and when you don’t feel like it. That’s the big secret to getting better. And it comes from the place you’d least expect it – yourself.
Big Secret No. 2: Improving your skills takes time.
We live in an instant world – instant coffee, instant ramen. Instagram. It’s only natural to think that our skills will come quickly and easily (and that just one podcast or blog post will enable us to churn out a finished, polished novel.)
Honestly, if it were that easy, it wouldn’t be worth anything.
The cold hard fact is that becoming better at what you do takes a long time. You’re not going to be an expert overnight. And this is what makes pushing yourself difficult – it’s much easier to sprint down the block than to run a mile.
Patience is a virtue. And an asset. And a challenge worth conquering.
Big Secret No. 3: Creative pursuits are subjective.
Why do we want to improve? So we can be better. Duh.
But what does better mean? Is it an end-all point where we can be done with what we’re doing?
There shouldn’t ever be a point that you stop learning to do what you love. You might as well get used to the feeling of not knowing everything, because it’s going to follow you for as long as you’re creating great content.
If you’re doing it right, you should always be improving.
The point I’m trying to make with all this:
Improvement is tough. It feels like the more you know, the less you think of yourself.
But you have a fire burning inside you. Use it. You’ve got what it takes.
And you’ll never, ever, ever get anywhere by throwing in the towel, saying you’re not good enough, and leaving your dreams to turn to dust. Quitting is for losers.
Be patient. Keep working. You’re going to make it. You’re going to do this.
tl;dr: Don’t be a pushover. Keep your chin up and go make something great.
Sayonara for now,