My fellow Creative Geek tribe member, Wil Wheaton, wrote a post yesterday about luck and writing. Because I am all about keeping other people from having to suffer through grad school in writing, I added my 2¢:
…Your note ought to be branded on every hopeful writer going into an MFA program. I'd add this to the advice for writers: Get out of your own way.
One thing I've noticed about luck and work is that my luck tends to happen when I'm getting out of my own way, and just doing the work I need to do. I can spend months working poorly, where my inner demons are doing my painting and my writing, while still churning out great amounts of work -- and not get any lucky breaks at all. It's frustrating, and hard, and I hate that place. But when I can shut down my ego, and just focus on doing what I need to do, and keeping my inner demons where they belong -- then not only does my work go more smoothly and flow, but all kinds of crazy luck comes my way.
There's the technical side of writing, where you learn your craft. And then there's the emotional side of writing: the bit that doesn't get taught, unless you're very lucky and find a strong teacher. That one's always been the side few people talk about, because it requires being vulnerable and admitting one's fears. Much riskier than dealing with direct vs. indirect objects, for sure.
Most people learn the technical side of writing first, and then discover they're hamstrung, because then the emotional side they never knew about comes out and kicks their ass. …
I'm reposting it here, because it's worth saying again. Get out of your own way, and remember to focus on the technical and emotional aspects of your craft, whatever that might be. You might have some of the best training out there, but get absolutely flattened when it comes time to create something new, if you're not also prepared to deal with the issues that surface when you try to create.
I suppose I'm also reposting it, because it's something I wasn't taught. In fact, the driving reason behind this blog is to pass on the things I wish someone had told me when I was just a fledgling creative person. My life would've been so much easier. Thinking back to all the mistakes I've made that I could've not done if I'd only known, makes me wince. So much wasted energy and time that could've been better spent making good art.
For reasons that I will probably never know, many creative people try to hoard information like this. That baffles me. Why wouldn't you want to help out other members of your tribe? It's hard enough being a creative person (and especially a Creative Geek) in a world better suited to… well, suits; we should be helping each other out when we can. An odd corollary -- a lot of creative people who are at the top of their game are amazingly willing to help out those just starting out. It's the ones who aren't particularly good who are stingy. Funny, that.
While I'm certainly not at the top of my professions (yet) -- learn from my mistakes, folks. And get out of your own way.
[And by the way, how awesome is it when someone you think is awesome, thinks something you wrote is massively awesome? It's pretty fucking awesome, that's what.]