1. People will judge me.
Of course they will! People judge you every day. When you’re standing at a crosswalk, when you’re in line at the grocery store, I can assure you, people who don’t know you and will never see you again are judging you.
When you put your work up on the web, drive-by clickers are totally, without a doubt, judging you.
Your work is your work. There will be always, always be people who don’t like it, or you. And there will be people who do. Alice Walker got widespread acclaim for her book The Color Purple, which was also turned into a movie and directed by Steven Spielberg. She also got a shit load of criticism from the Black community, judging her hard on her depiction of a cruel Black man who beat up on his wife.
I’m not saying it’s easy. It’s not. But it’s a fact of life that you are going to have to accept or you will never be able to move on and get to the bit that is sustaining and totally worth it. I get rejections on my work almost every day. That’s how I know I’m putting it out there. I also get acceptances, and each one of those acceptances is worth ten rejections.
2. It’s not good enough.
This is incorrect. You are good enough. You’re here, on this crazy little green and blue ball spinning through a universe we know little about just like everyone else aren’t you?
You are never going to be “as good as” someone else you admire, because you simply are not them. I’m never gonna be Bono in this lifetime. But do I really want to be Bono? Not really. With great reward comes greater responsibility. And being Bono all day has to get old sometimes, too. I imagine putting on those leather pants, day in and day out, way into my ’50s would be a problem in and of itself.
3. I don’t get paid so therefore my creative stuff is not valid.
Money and creativity, now that’s a topic. Why do you need to be paid in order for your work to be valid? Even artists who do get paid have to do boring things like walk the dog, balance the checkbooks and clean up the house. Many great creators created because a) they were curious about the world and b) they wanted to expand themselves somehow. These are two of the best reasons I have ever found for creating. “I’ll never get paid,” is an excuse we use to keep ourselves from using those spare moments of waiting we have in every single day to build a body of work. Just like you chip away at a good book whenever you can, you can chip away at your creative endeavors twenty minutes here, a half hour there.
The whole I-have-to-make-money-at-it-or-its-nothing argument is cold, stale, leftover food at the back of the refrigerator, hidden in Tupperware and growing moldy fungal spores. Let it go. Just let it go.
4. What’s the point?
Ah, good old ennui and inertia, gets us every time don’t it?
Since we’re living in a culture with so many he-hit-it-big stories, often what keeps people on the ground floor is the belief that there is no point unless they win the creative lottery so to speak. This is just not true! There is a point. People do creative things for many reasons, and many people do creative things AND have day jobs. The creative things are what keep them functioning, cleaning out the inner clutter so that every day life doesn’t grate on their nerves like a bad bikini wax. It helps us to process that crap out. Nobody has to see it, read it or hear it if you don’t want them to. And how many times can we remind ourselves that we *are* it. We are the ones who can listen and hear ourselves. We are the ones learning from this.
That thing you’re holding onto, the thing that fulfills you, why do you keep it hidden? Fear? If you love it, hey, I probably do too. My friends make beautiful things they never share with anyone and when I ask them why they go, “I’m scared,” or “I don’t know.” But yet, the thing that feels the most tender, the most vulnerable, the most like you’re about to jump off a very tall building with no parachute — that probably IS your parachute.
Go out with a fight. Die trying! You may never see your creations reach fruition, but does anything ever really reach fruition? “Poems are never finished, only abandoned,” said French critic and poet Paul Valery.
5. I’m not really an artist
This one’s a real pill. I have talked to many people about their art, music, writing and general creative pursuits. In some people, the belief that spending time creating is worth it is buried so far inside you can’t even grab it anymore and they will spend the rest of their lives wondering what could have been. Don’t be one of these people. Who the hell cares what other people think? The act itself is the key to your creativity. Not the finished result. That’s a nice byproduct and a goal to strive for, but a lot of people start drawing, writing or playing piano because it is initially something that feels good to do. When is the last time you sat down and drew a picture for fun? What are you waiting for? What have you got to lose? Why does a silly moniker even matter?