"If you're not putting yourself out there, somehow risking rejection, you aren't really inspiring. You're performing." - Jeff Goins
Have you ever been working on your own thing, struggling through some sort of creative endeavor, and just become stuck? More than stuck actually, paralyzed would be a better word. I'm writing a book, but lately writing a book consists of generally avoiding my computer, even preferring cleaning the toilet over actually having to face that same troublesome sentence or half-finished chapter one more time. So by writing a book I mean engaging in lots of negative self-talk, unwarranted criticism and general loathing of every word I type.
Creating something from nothing seems intimidating and like too much pressure, so I hide away. I don't write, but I also don't cook, decorate, or take pictures. I avoid making anything that I know I'll just be disappointed with later. Even though great writing inspires me, when I get like this I don't even read. I tend to avoid books or articles, especially ones on the same topic that I'm writing about, sure that mine will pale in comparison and they've already said everything I plan to say, only better. Suddenly everything everybody else has ever written is Pulitzer Prize-worthy and my words are rubbish. I find myself amazed at the ability of other writers to finish a sentence or turn a phrase, and the actual completion of an article, blog post, or (gulp) entire book seems like an impossible feat to me. I wonder, "How'd they do that?" even though I know deep down that they did it the same way I'm avoiding right now. They did it by sitting down at the computer every day, forcing out one rough thought at a time, being accountable and vulnerable to share crappy writing with other people to get some constructive criticism. They kept showing up, and they showed up enough times to assemble those thoughts into a finished product, completing what they started.
I get frustrated, knowing these things full well, yet still finding myself unable or unwilling to do them. But then, weekends like this past one happen - I hang out with my brothers and their band and see them showing up, with migraines and no sleep and very little pay after nine years of trying to make this thing go. And it's going, slowly but surely, it's going. They are creating something, and following dreams, and showing up for what they were made to do.
It wasn't just performing, it was inspiring because I knew what they were risking. I knew how much work goes into what they do. I knew they were showing up even when it sucked and they didn't feel like it, or were unsure of what would happen next. It's easy to hide and not take the risk to create something because someone might be doing it better, or because it might not turn out the way you planned. But, I'm realizing creativity and inspiration doesn't happen in one brilliant moment of perfection, but in showing up for all the not so brilliant ones consistently, working hard, and putting yourself out there.
I think this process of writing a book is teaching me a lot about showing up. Thanks Citizen Way and I Am They for helping the lesson along. You inspire me.
Here's a little video peek of their Arizona mini tour!