A couple days ago, I was watching an interview with best-selling novelist Stephen King.
I hate anything horror.
… as you can guess…
… I haven’t read any of his books.
But, I’m always open to learning from the greatest artists of any field.
In the interview:
King talked about the importance of finding (and working with) ideas you enjoy.
He mentioned how a lot of people approach their craft with the intention of making stuff that OTHER people will like. Then, they try to finish that work as quickly as possible. So that they can breathe a sigh of relief once they’re finally done.
But King doesn’t approach his work that way.
He doesn’t CARE about the end result… at all…
… or even what other people think of his work.
The finished book on a shelf is just a pile of dead skin to him. So it isn’t about authoring yet another book.
All that matters to him is that he finds enjoyment in the process of creation.
And he always does.
In fact, he enjoys it so much that…
… by the time a book is finished…
… he has a hard time saying goodbye to the characters he created…
… and he wishes it wouldn’t end.
Thinking back, there are times when I’ve fallen into this sort of trap. Where I forget to enjoy myself when creating art, and I just wanna get the job over with as soon as possible.
So I can move onto the next project.
And I focus too much on what other people will think of my work.
But now that I think of it, those are the times when the work I create isn’t that great.
But not great.
Why does this happen?
I believe the answer lies in a story I read sometime back from a well-known Olympic coach.
One training day:
One of his track athletes came up to him and said…
"Coach, I gotta win that race that’s coming up."
"Alright. We’ll do some special training just for you today. For this first practice lap, I want you to put 100% of your effort in! Run as fast as you can! I wanna see you at your best!"
And so, the athlete got the message.
He went up on the field.
Got himself ready.
And RAN with all his might.
The time he recorded was… mediocre.
Pretty bad even.
Hearing the result, he walked back to his coach with his head down in shame, waiting for feedback.
After which, his coach told him:
"Alright, let’s try this again. This time, I want you to go onto the field, and just forget about running your fastest. Just put in 50% of your effort this time. Alright?"
The athlete was puzzled.
But he went back up on the field. And did what his coach told him.
He ran SO fast, that…
… he unofficially broke a World Record!
The moral of the story:
When you focus too much on the end result, it really messes you up. You strain yourself so much, your performance goes bad.
You start to get nervous.
Your mind and muscles tense up.
Self-doubt starts to rear its head.
And everything just goes haywire.
So it goes for the creative professional…
… and for me as well…
As Stephen King says (and I paraphrase):
"I don’t care about whether other people like what I create. All I care about is that I have fun and enjoy the process. And if people have fun reading what I write, then that’s great."
Gotta remember that.
And don’t focus too much on the end result.
That’s why these days, I’m spending more time on just playing around with my work. Not doing it just for the sake of reaching a specific goal.
And that’s also why…
… these days you’ll find a lot of fun new pieces in my store.
Will people like them?
I don’t know. But I know one thing.
I had fun making them.
And to me, that’s all that matters…
"Doing 50% Of My Best"