Sunday, June 28, 2009

Merlin Mann on "Just Doing It"

I was pointed at this episode of The Sound of Young America by a friend of mine recently. During this talk, Merlin Mann proposes that the real impediment to being creative is the fear of "sucking", and that we really start achieving things as creative types is when we accept that our first attempts at anything will be awful.

Though I cringe whenever I hear titles with "Young" in them, I find myself in full agreement with Mr. Mann. As a teaching artist, I work with a lot of beginning cartoonists who are sometimes crippled with fear that their work won't be great after one or two tries. I'm familiar with that feeling myself. When I was 19 and had just self-published my first comic I was full of the hope that once I took it to my first convention I would be showered with praise and money for the work of genius I had created. That made the drive home all the more depressing, having only a few dollars to show for my efforts and the insults from nasty fanboys still ringing in my ears. It's an incredible amount of work making comics, and that should always be congratulated. It was many years before I learned that the act of doing it was where the satisfaction lived, not the praise or money that came after (though I do want those, as well!).

So I think Merlin's talk is just a good reminder to us creative types to keep at it and to not just accept that our first efforts will inevitably stink, but fall in love with the act of making things. That's the only way things will ever get done, in my experience. That's the only way we ever get better at it. Simple advice, but easily forgotten.