For months, I have been paralyzed.
When I sit down to write, nothing comes out. When I start to design, I stare at a blank canvas. My ability to create things does not meet my own ridiculously high standards of quality, so I get stuck in an endless loop of making decent things, throwing them away, and then starting over from scratch. I’ve been floating around in despair, a creativity limbo, which has nearly destroyed me. I stopped working. I became depressed.
That was three months ago, and while I now feel more inspired and energized than ever, the paralytic gap between my actual ability to create and my sense of what is “good enough” remains. I cannot make things good enough for myself. The problem is festering in my thoughts, and I doubt myself at every turn.
The truth is that perfection is impossible and “Good enough” is good enough. To move forward, I need to lower the insanely high standards I have for my own work. But as a designer, this task is insurmountably difficult. It feels like defeat becuase it’s a tacit admission that I am not good enough to create things that meet the same level of quality that I demand from others when I evaluate creative work. My “taste” exceeds my own ability.
It’s interesting that the source of my internal battle lies buried in something as innocuous as “taste”. For most people, taste is just the basis of opinion. It describes the point at which something flips from being “not good enough” to “ok, decent”. But for creative people, it’s something different. Taste is everything. It is what drives us. It is the definition of success, the ceiling of what is possible, and the source of everlasting internal frustration. Being creative is a battle fought over the slow conversion of a mere idea into something tangible that you think is great. The question is: When do you stop the conversion process?
I don’t know. •
These words were not written by me but if you are convinced that they were, then I’m not the only one stunned by that realization.
Dustin Curtis, insanely understands what I’m going through or it could be the other way around. Either way, he has given me the words to finally express what I’ve always been afraid to say, especially with that first paragraph.