Recently, I had a coworker tell me that the music I have been writing is “perfect” and I should finish it. Me saying this is in no way an attempt to brag about my writing abilities. In fact, I live constantly under the guise that a lot of the stuff I make is terrible, or it at least doesn’t compare to professionals. This got me thinking though, is my work really as bad as I think it is? What am I really trying to do by delaying my work? Have I been waiting on that golden moment or that time with the stars align and my work becomes truly flawless? It’s a really horrible mindset to have when you’re trying to be creative, constantly thinking you’re not good enough. It kills your spirit. It’s moments like the one that I had with my coworker that reminds me, hey, I don’t suck *ss. Maybe I don’t have to slave and suffer my way into having something good. It’s because of them that Rotten Mind even exists.
Another one of my coworkers told me on the same day that I “should promise [her] that [I] won’t be here in a year” because I “have too much going for [me]”. This came about moments after the first coworker walked away. I didn’t believe her. I know all of the flaws of my work, and what I need to do to fix them. How could she possibly think that I am doing well?
For those who also suffer from the same debilitating mindset of self-doubt, here are a few tips that have helped me and maybe they can help you too.
We are our worst critics.
We’ve all heard this a million times but when you actually start to live by it, amazing things can happen. When I am writing a song, I constantly say to myself, they won’t like it, it’s not catchy enough, it’s not the standard structure, it’s not this, it’s not that. It’s always shocking when I show someone my work and they tell me they genuinely believe it’s good. Sometimes you can get so caught up in the details of a project, the single notes out of a solo, that you forget to look at the big picture. The general population will not be scrutinizing your work to the degree you do. You believe they will because it’s human nature to be fearful of the unknown. “What will they think if I put this here instead of this?”, In the end it doesn’t matter because most people will not point it out, being that they’re not experts. Be true to yourself and create what you like. If you like it, it’s good, that’s literally all that matters.
The 80/20 Rule
80% of the results are created by 20% of the work. This is also called the Pareto Principle. This has really helped me out in deciding when I should stop working on a project because I am getting too caught up in it. I often find that I will be focusing too much on small miniscule details instead of focusing on the overall project. When I focus too much on the details then I start panicking and caring about what people think. Then nothing gets done because i worked on the wrong things. So when I have something that’s good enough or about 80% “there”, I’m done. Thats good enough for me. There’s another part of this principle that also matters: The 20% of the work. Work on what matters most for that project. If you’re in a band, don’t focus on logo design first (like I did), focus on writing the music. After all, that is what a band does, right?
Something is better than nothing
This phrase is both scary and liberating. Imagine if the world saw your worst work. Imagine if they saw absolutely nothing from you. Imagine if you showed them some of your better work. At least it wasn’t your absolute worst. If your dream was to be an artist then it pretty much dies if you don’t make show the world. Just like if you’re an “entrepreneur” but never got your company out of the planning phase, or you’re a “basketball player” but never play in a game. Now this is phrase should liberate you from perfection, but by no means should you just sh*t something out, you should still try, even if it’s just out of self respect. If all 8 billion people on earth saw it, I can say with certainty that more people than you’d expect would still love your worst work.
So I hope you take these ideas and expand upon them for yourself. I am by no means an expert and other professionals could dive deeper into the issues you’re having.
I’ve picked these up from all over so it’s hard to define a source, especially for the 80:20 rule. It’s just so widely known now.
Well anyway, I hope you achieve what it is you want in life. Just remember to fight fear, not run from it.
- Jaye from Rotten Mind