Getting started is hard.
The beginning of almost any project is almost always overwhelming. We’re excited to get moving, but at the same time, we don’t have any idea where to start.
So we put it off.
Instead, we focus on figuring it all out. We read some books, check out some blog posts, maybe take a course or two, and then wait until we feel confident enough to get started.
But of course, that moment never arrives.
We get stuck because we never feel ready.
After all, the more we figure out, the more we realize that there is always something more out there that we may need to know.
It isn’t just getting started that’s the problem; however, it’s also the doubts and uncertainty that show up on a daily basis.
Maybe it’s the nagging self-doubt that whispers in your ear suggesting that you abandon your current project and instead pursue that other idea that you came up with yesterday. Or perhaps you are moving on to a new phase of your project, and you start to feel overwhelmed all over again as you face new logistical or technological challenges.
Instead of allowing this confusion and uncertainty stop us, however, we need to embrace it and recognize that this is all just part of the creative process.
We need to recognize that the only cure for uncertainty is not seeking more knowledge, but instead finding the courage to take that next step forward even though we may not yet know where we’re going.
Part of growing up is doing things that you have never done before.
In order to do that, however, we have to be willing to go back to the uncomfortable place of being a beginner. Back to the discomfort of starting over where we don’t have a clue what we’re doing.
It’s natural to want to stay in our comfort zone where we know exactly what to expect.
What we don’t like, is doing things we haven’t done before.
We finally finish writing our book, but now we have to figure out how to format and publish it.
We finish our artwork, but now we have to figure out how to market it and find interested buyers.
We finish our website, but now we have to figure out how to actually get people to visit it.
In other words, as soon as we get something figured out, there is always something else out there waiting for us where we don’t know what we’re doing.
Understandably, most of us are a little reluctant to leave the comfort of our hard-won area of competence and go back to square one where we’ll once again feel like the incompetent newbie.
Every time that we are willing to venture back into the unknown, however, we push ourselves and our abilities a little further down the path.
It means that we are moving forward and making progress.
Eventually, we learn that simply by swallowing our pride and embracing discomfort, we are able to grow and do things that we have never done before.
Finally, we must learn that despite our best efforts, we often have little control over the results.
As writers, musicians, and visual artists, we are capable of creating some extraordinary things that the world has never seen before, which is the power of being a creative artist.
At the same time, we have little control over how our audience is going to react to our creation.
I’ve written things that I was extremely proud of that nobody else cared about. On the other hand, I’ve also written things on topics that bored me, but for whatever reason, something about it connected with my readers.
As creators, we often think that we are smart enough to predict what our audience is going to like or dislike, and depending on how well we know our audience, we are right to some degree.
But just as often, we are completely wrong.
That doesn’t mean that our work sucks. It simply means that the quality of our work is just one part of the equation when it comes to what work connects with our audience and what doesn’t.
Either way, we should learn to embrace failure with optimism.
We need to accept that not everyone is going to like everything that we do, and we will often stumble along the way.
We also have to have faith that because we are constantly evolving as a creative artist, that growth will be reflected in our next work, which is why we must find a way to keep moving forward instead of dwelling on the reactions to our previous work.
After all, failure is not a judgment but simply a chance to start again.
Or as the writer, Samuel Beckett once said, “Fail, fail again, fail better.”
Writer, teacher, and head custodian of the Skinny Artist community. His book "Getting Creative: Developing Creative Habits that Work" is all about finding the time (and energy) to live a more creative life.