I recently came across this wonderful video posted on Vimeo. It’s the storyteller, Ira Glass, who is talking about people who are beginning to move forward with creating something.
I love this.
I love this because it is telling the truth about creativity.
No one has seen the sculptures that Michelangelo created and then blasted into smithereens with a hammer because they were crap.
No one has seen the paintings of Monet, Rembrandt, and Matisse that started with a good idea but ended badly.
No one has read the stories that Stephen King threw away.
This video is a reminder that behind closed doors, a bloody battle is underway for the creative person.
The battle is to birth a vision inside one’s mind, to bring to life accurately whatever that vision may be.
A musician may hear a perfect symphony within their mind, but when they try to compose it, something is missing. They’re not sure what it is, but whatever they produced doesn’t sound nearly as magnificent as it did in their mind.
This “gap”—the space between thinking about something and making something—has been a constant source of frustration and anguish for many artists.
But this doesn’t apply only to artists. We’re all creators, whether we’re creating a painting or a marketing strategy. Every time we go to create anything, we have a certain idea of the perfect outcome. We go into the process believing that we’re going to make it happen. We’ll make that vision a reality.
The Long Road
But to make that vision a reality takes practice.
Lots and lots of practice. And a willingness to cherish our ideas like children.
I mean, think about it. You wouldn’t boot a toddler out on the street because he left crumbs on the floor, would you? You wouldn’t tell a five-year old to take a hike because while trying to help you dry the dishes, she broke one, right?
Yet that’s so often what we do with our ideas when they don’t arrive neatly into our world. We either think the idea sucks or we suck. Sometimes both.
Then we bang our heads against the wall while asking ourselves if there’s really any point to creating.
Yes. Yes there is.
The road toward mastery takes time. And not months, either. More like years.
When I posted the above video to a copywriting group, one person responded with a simple word.
In other words, promise that it gets better?
It’s tough to see that “better” in your future when you may be experiencing rejection left and right. Perhaps your boss was less than pleased with the dismal performance of your great idea.
Or maybe a client took a look at what you produced and hammered you for it. A good friend of mine just had a hellacious experience with such a person.
Whatever rejection you might be experiencing, either from someone else or yourself, please don’t let that be the end of the road for your idea.
Continue playing with it. Tweak it. Adjust. Spin it around. Turn it inside out, upside down, and right-side up.
So many brilliant ideas came as a result of testing and experimentation.
Take a break from thinking about it and go for a walk or maybe a bicycle ride. Call a friend. See the latest blockbuster movie. Relax. Take a nap. Just like your body, your mind needs to rest after exertion.
Be prepared for something incredible to come to you at the most inopportune times, too. Mine often come to me in church. I end up scribbling a reminder note to myself on the church bulletin that I follow up on when I get home.
For some, it happens while taking a shower or just before you fall asleep. Always have a notebook and pen nearby so you can jot down these ideas.
Don’t Give Up
What is important is that you’d don’t give up on your idea. Whatever it is, you need to give it time to develop. Sometimes there will be false starts and plenty of dead-ends. But if you’re intent upon reaching your destination, you’ll just shrug, dust yourself off and re-adjust.
I remember backpacking in Europe during the summer after graduating from college. A friend invited me to visit her family in Greece. I went around in circles, trying to find her address.
Finally, I stopped at a local bar and ordered a beer. As I sat outside in the August heat, sipping the ice-cold beverage, suddenly I found myself staring across the street at the exact address I was searching for. I smiled, finished my beer, and minutes later, connected with my friend.
You also may be just steps away from finding just what you need to perfectly execute that idea of yours.
Keep going. The worst that can happen is that you’ll have to try again tomorrow.