I’m sure I’ve mentioned before how I wanted to start a blog for a while. Like I’m talking a ten-years-or-so-while. Maybe longer. When did this Internet thing catch on?
Actually, I started at least six along the way, but they all petered out for one reason or another. Early attempts were generally due to a lack of direction and a basically LiveJournal approach detailing boring details of my life with no reflection on their importance. Later attempts stalled out because of paranoia that every post had to be perfect — even if the post was about how perfection isn’t possible.
I’d tweak and tweak and tweak the same few articles and instead of posting, I’d do my best Scarlett O’Hara and tell myself, “Tomorrow is another day.”
If you decide, “Tomorrow is another day” every day, you get nowhere. Fast.
So one day, I ripped off the Band-Aid and started posting, realizing publishing what I wrote would help me figure out the direction faster, easier, and more effectively than simply daydreaming.
And while I don’t quite have the direction down (nor the website finished…details, details…), the discipline of posting every week — and having to figure out what the heck I’m going to say — has done wonders for helping me examine myself, explore various markets, and learn more about people I respect and how they tick, in this industry and beyond.
I realized I don’t have to hold on to my best thoughts until I have them 100% perfect, terrified that if I put them out there, I’ll never have another that is nearly as awesome. All this paralysis by analysis is crippling. And so many of us fall prey to it.
All this reminded me of something I once heard Louis C.K. talk about in a NSFW tribute to George Carlin where he credits Carlin for showing him a path to success.
The short version is Louis C.K. — who is regarded as one of the most successful, prolific and profound comics today — used to be a pretty meh stand-up comic who spent more than a decade doing the same typical jokey jokes that were unmemorable and unremarkable. (I can't believe I just called Louis C.K. unremarkable, but he was.) It took him 15 years to build his hour of material that even he knew was sub-par.
Basically, one night he’s depressed listening to a George Carlin c.d. in his car after doing his routine at a Chinese restaurant. (Of course he tells this all in an endlessly funny, albeit profane, fashion.)
On the c.d. Carlin talks workshopping and writing and about how every year, he would chuck his old material and start over. Every single year, he would ditch his jokes and write entirely new ones. This was a terrifying prospect to Louis C.K. (and me too!).
But then, Louis C.K. realized when you approach comedy this way, you dig deeper. You first uncover feelings. Then fears. Then really weird stuff. He realized George Carlin said what he wanted. He asked himself, “What do I really want to say that I’m afraid to say?”
This approach can be applied to anything. When you put what you’re working on out there, you free yourself up to take on something new. And that new thing will continue to teach you and help you grow until you put that out there and try something else. And you keep evolving — instead of worrying you’re putting out your pinnacle of work that nothing else will live up to and instead of waiting for that perfect moment because it’s not coming.
So if you’re feeling stuck, ask yourself, “What do I really want to say that I’m afraid to say?” And then don’t stop yourself from saying it.