If you’re a perfectionist, you’ll hate this article. But if you want to accomplish something awesome, please proceed.
In Greek mythology, Zeus had nine daughters known as the muses. Each muse was apparently responsible for inspiring one of the various arts. (that's where the term “music” comes from).
I’ve found over and over again, that inspiration and the creative process is very much like dealing with a muse. A very temperamental, sometimes fickle muse you don’t want to insult or ignore, and many times you're at the mercy of her schedule.
Consider Stephen Pressfield’s words:
“This is the other secret that real artists know and wannabe writers don’t. When we sit down each day and do our work, power concentrates around us. The Muse takes note of our dedication. She approves. We have earned favor in her sight. When we sit down and work, we become like a magnetized rod that attracts iron filings. Ideas come. Insights accrete.”
― Steven Pressfield, The War of Art: Break Through the Blocks & Win Your Inner Creative Battles
If you’re like me, an idea may strike and take root in your imagination. Suddenly, you have a great idea for a drawing, painting, or story. It’s like small pieces of a puzzle, coming one at a time. As if your muse is in another room, slipping them through the underside of the door.
I treasure those moments. But let me tell you something you need to remember.
You MUST take action on these ideas. QUICKLY.
You have a small window of opportunity to get this idea to a place where it will survive and thrive. A brief time frame within which to execute. Do it before the fire burns out. The more you delay, the more your project will turn on you.
And piss your muse off.
Attack when your muse gives you the idea and the joyful passion by which to accomplish it. When inspiration strikes you must not tarry. At least write it down, or sketch it out in your sketchbook.
Do it ruthlessly, with passion, persistence, and fire.
Just Get Started
The puzzle pieces will begin to self-organize. It’s taking on a life of its own and is fleshing itself out with what it wants to be. The big idea is taking shape, but is in a vulnerable, unstable condition.
So it’s imperative that you do your part, get started, stick with it until the work of art grows up, or dies.
Prolonging, procrastinating, and over analyzing your creative project until it’s “perfect,” will turn your project in to something joyless, and dead. It will never be perfect.
It will be a sick, over-analyzed, wretched bastardization of itself, an opportunity you have squandered.
Unnecessary over-analyzation of your creative project will rob it of its soul and make the project miserable.
Let me be clear. I’m not saying that getting something done justifies careless execution. Nor should you rely on feelings before you act.
There's a term I've learned recently called a "minimally viable product." This simply means that you get something to a point where it's not perfect, but it's good enough to get out there into people's hands.
Don't aim for perfection. Aim for a minimally viable product. Especially while you're learning something new.
In recent days I've been learning digital painting. I've posted things just two weeks ago on instagram that I'm already ashamed of and taken down.
As Pressfield rightly says, the more often we show up, the more our muse will show up. There are deadlines. There are people who want to see what you’re making. There is the need to maintain creative momentum. And there is that brief snapshot of time when all these things converge.
The Big Idea
If you only take away one thing from this article, let it be this...
It’s better for an artist to produce consistent output, and improve along the way, then meddle incessantly with a single piece day after day, night after night, and never put anything out. The goal is maintaining a certain level of quality while realizing that consistency is more important than perfection.
Momentum Builds Momentum
Consistency builds momentum and confidence. You can rob yourself of all three if you meddle with something with aspirations of achieving a perfection that will never arrive. People notice consistency not perfection, particularly in the realm of social media
You aren’t Leonardo da Vinci. You are learning. Become more comfortable sharing rough sketches, mistakes, and unfinished works of art.
It’s all part of the artist’s journey. Here are some benefits of having "done is better than perfect" standard:
- You learn as you go realizing your work will become better in time
- You keep your momentum
- You learn quickly whether a project is worth your time
- You learn quickly from your mistakes
- You can fall forward and improve faster
- People notice consistency
- Feeling of accomplishment
- Build confidence
Best of all, while others are just sitting around thinking and talking about creating, you will be taking action, and actually creating all kinds of freaking awesome stuff!
Now, honor your muse's gift, and go make something rad!