We often start out thinking if we can just do the “right” work, we’ll breakthrough. When in fact, it’s not the what work we should focus on, but how much. We will do everything we can to convince ourselves that something other than volume is more important.
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Smells like Procrastination
We need a new lens to get the right shot. We need to switch to a different writing app with better features. We can’t launch our business or build our app until we’ve gotten an MBA so we know how to monetize it once we build it. The work before the work never ends.
For everyone who has succeeded in these pursuits, the old saying proves true: a poor craftsman blames his tools.
Tweaking is fine, and trying to improve your process is helpful. Before doing that, however, take some shots with the camera you’ve got. Write lots of words—with a pencil, if you have to. Begin to recognize those impulses as a form of avoidance.
What it really boils down to is this: there’s a legitimate fear that if we actually make something, we’ll have to face the true state of our skills and accept how much improvement we still have ahead of us. It sucks, but I’ve found that simply accepting that it’s normal eases the discomfort.
Leave Your Fingerprint
The silver lining is that, through creating a quantity of work, you will begin to uncover your own personal, signature style.
Style is the bellwether of any established professional. You recognize an Alejandro González Iñárritu film through his style: the kinetic energy; the long, fluid takes; the heightened sense of reality. And whether Lana and Lilly Wachowski are challenging us to question the nature of reality or staging jaw-dropping action scenes, you can recognize their work from a single frame of one of their films. They work with different collaborators on every film, but each film has their fingerprints all over it.
So let this be a reminder: style can be imitated, but your style will emerge only after you’ve done lots and lots of your own work. You may produce a one-time hit, but success fades. Consistent, productive work is where the real breakthroughs happen.