18 Apr Dance like everybody’s watching
Today I didn’t feel like dancing. The reason was that when I do dance, I dance like everybody’s watching. And now I felt like there’s no audience. Why bother if nobody cares and I don’t really have to?
Obviously, I’m not a dancer. Not anymore. Today I was suffering from a writer’s block, or more of an existential crisis with my writings, just like all real bohemian artists do. The low number of blog visitors from last week got me unmotivated. I was the cool hipster stereotype of an agonized wannabe-writer. The problem is ― that’s not professional.
A bohemian artist is not a professional, at least when it comes to creative work. Creative by definition is all about creating new, so that part is surely covered. But creative work by definition is also being productive enough to earn a living from it. An occasional “creative” who only creates when one feels like it, is an amateur.
Professionalism is delivering even when your head's all over the place.
I know it can feel frustrating to squeeze out inspiring material when there’s no inspiration. It can also feel pointless to perform for basically non-existing audience. Combination of these two can easily lead to skipping over the creative process, “this one time” as we justify it to ourselves. We all tend to lower our standards when nobody’s watching.
The thing is, that you can never become skilled if you don’t train. Raising the level requires repetition and doing uncomfortable things, even failing every now and then. And there’s no better time to do mistakes and try new than when nobody’s watching.
Of course not everybody can be determined. Two out of three dieters gain the lost weight within three years. Only 6 % of those who try to quit smoking succeed. 80% of New Year’s resolutions are given up with by mid-February.
“Whether you think you can, or you think you can't ― you're right.”
- Henry Ford
Waiting for inspiration is for amateurs. Professionals deliver when they need to, not when they feel like it. A professional is someone who uses all the routines and methods they have learned during the years ― the professional techniques ― that an amateur lacks.
That is what professionalism is. You don’t need external inspiration, because you have the tools to find it from inside you. Anyone can be creative, but being a creative professional means getting shit done.
If you wish to become a top pro, you have to make the decision of not giving up until you are good enough. You have to dance a lot for you imaginary audience. Only by doing so will you find your routines, methods and techniques, those tools that will make you a professional. Nobody will hand them out for you. Or even if they did, you wouldn’t be able to adapt them without practice.
To be able to succeed you have to have experience. And experience comes from failure, which in turn comes from experiencing. Just do yourself a favour and stop waiting for inspiration.
Returning to the opening of this article and the existential crisis I had. I’m finishing this writing at 11 pm. It’s dark outside. But you know what?
It’s what you do in the dark that puts you in the light. Rule yourself.