If I Don’t Write Something Today I Might Cry
If you’re a fellow creative you know the feeling: the longer you go without practicing your craft the harder it is to come back to it.
As your time away from your work increases, you start to feel the pressure rising and believe you need to show up in the rarest most perfect form to make up for all the time you’ve missed. You convince yourself that if you don’t put out an absolute banger right now everyone will know you’re a fraud, the crowd you’ve worked so hard to gather will disperse, and you’ll be left to drown in a puddle of your own tears.
Well, here I am, on the 10th day of October, in a puddle of my own tears. I had expected to write at least six stories by now, but this will be my first. To make it happen I need to get my head straight.
You see, when you’ve been away from your craft for longer than you’d like, the goal isn’t to have a good performance anymore, the goal is to summon your courage and show the heck up.
Focus on what’s important
“The most important thing about art is to work. Nothing else matters except sitting down every day and trying.”— Steven Pressfield
When I was a teenager my parents made me join a recreational baseball team to get out more and make friends, but I was terrible at baseball, so it was a very bad plan.
Even though I couldn’t hit, catch, or throw the ball with any reliability, I did get to play. On rare occasions, I was able to pull off some pretty decent baseball moves and make real people (my mom) clap.
I learned that you may not be able to hit a home run every time, but you gotta show up to the game if you wanna play, so focus on showing up.
Signing up to be an artist or a writer is similar to becoming a baseball player: you’re making a commitment to show up and play the game. Don’t focus on a specific result. We always give it our best, but in the end, we can only control whether we show up and do the work. If we show up enough times, the result will take care of itself.
Make it easier to show up
If you wanna show up more, and cry less, then you’d be well-served to create a system that makes showing up easier.
This month I’ve been participating in my friend BeeJayDel’s 31 Days of Halloween procreate tutorials. He’s built a successful YouTube channel and is making a new video every day this month. The man clearly has a system and is committed to showing up in a major way. (Sidenote: saying “in a major way” always reminds me of Fruity Pebbles.)
I’ve been piggybacking on BeeJayDel’s system to learn procreate by following every one of his tutorials this month. I’ll need my own system before the month is over or I might not be able to keep it going every day by myself.
Everything can be broken down into a system. For example, a writing system might consist of generating ideas, writing a first draft, editing, and publishing. You generally don’t want to sit down and try to do all of these things at once because it can be too overwhelming.
We can all benefit from building a system that makes it easier to show up.
Show up and do the work
“The professional has learned that success, like happiness, comes as a by-product of work. The professional concentrates on the work and allows rewards to come or not come, whatever they like.” — Steven Pressfield
This is me, done crying, and showing up to beat the resistance. Showing up to relieve the pressure of being perfect. Showing up to play the game.
After I hit publish on this story, I’ll work on building the system I talked about, to make showing up in the future easier.
You can do the same thing. You can make something and release it into the world to let go of your stress and beat back the resistance. The longer your break gets the harder it’s gonna be to return. So go ahead, summon your courage now and show the heck up!