Comics, books, a musical, a kinetic novel, videogames, goofy dramatized audiobooks, sketches, bizarre epic poems, commercials, vlogs, animation, graphics and logos… I’ve gotten a fair variety of response in a fair variety of work.
I’ve created pieces that a lot of people like.
And sometimes, the negative’s all I hear. Because I start telling it to myself too and drowning out the other voices. Then I wonder if I’m actually any good.
To be clear- the question isn’t if I can get better. I can always get better. If I ever think I can’t (and I’ve seen through the writing club that I lead that I can; I’ve already learned a ton through studying lessons on writing from the Bible!), I’m not going to get much better.
The question is if I’m any good. And the reason that matters if that if I’m not good and I’m not really getting better (as I thought I was), in my mind I oughtn’t be teaching others and I ought to consider another career.
Every artist that I know wonders at some point if they’re good enough. Fortunately I haven’t slumped into a depression with it, but I know artists who it’s crippling for- they may have literally thousands of people telling them “We love your work!” and they don’t hear a word.
Instead, they only hear the words they tell themselves: “this isn’t good”, “it’s not good enough”, “I’m not really good at this”.
(Now, I never want to lie. If somebody’s not good, I don’t want to tell them “you’re great!” That said, I do separate my enjoyment of something from the quality that I perceive it as- I might tell them “I love it, but you have room to grow”, or “it’s great, but it’s not my thing”. Not quite that bluntly- I think it’s always important to let people know what they’re doing right so that they keep going in positive directions- but you get the idea)
We sometimes struggle with the quality of our work and wonder about it (or at least I do). And I’m here to recommend some changes of mindsets from the hindering ones that keep us being the best we can be and the most confident we can be.
Here are 6 new mindsets I’d like to encourage in myself and others:
1. My goal is to help people.
As opposed to “My goal is to create art”.
What is art? What is an objective definition for art?
I don’t think I want to get into it here, but there is no objective definition for art that allows us to objectively define what art is.
Thus, we cannot create something that everyone will call “art” or that can objectively be called “art”. So I posit that it’s a meaningless endeavor to create “art”.
It is a great endeavor to make something that will put a smile on peoples’ faces; change their beliefs about themselves; give them confidence, courage, peace, etc.
Benefiting mankind is a great cause; but don’t worry about creating art.
2. Work is education, not the final exam.
As opposed to “Every project must be perfect- my crown jewel!”.
Our projects and what we create are not the final exams- I know I tend to view them that way. Instead, view each piece as education- as a project. Not as a final exam.
One of my mindsets that’s helped me go far is this: “I’ll work on something for as long as it keeps me growing. Once it’s not helping me grow anymore, I complete it and move on.”
That way I focus on growing, and I’m still creating projects too. I need to finish projects, absolutely- but I also need to grow, and sometimes I think that editing projects too much or spending too much time on them can inhibit our growth. But I think each person may have to judge themselves for that.
There is no “final exam” project in life. That’s a myth. It’s just constant education. And no matter how you feel, your future ideas, as long as you grow in the skills of brainstorming, will be even better than your favorite ones right now!
3. It can always be better.
As opposed to “It’s never good enough”.
Imperfection is okay in every industry. Settling for less than your momentumative best is not (I’m making up “momentumative best”; what I mean is, keep your momentum in growth going through new projects; only stay with this project as long as it helps you reach/stay in your peak momentum).
Imperfect is inevitable. And it’s part of growth, and even experimenting in growth!
You don’t need to be perfect. Reframe your perspective: don’t worry about if it’s “good enough”. Instead, understand that it can always be better and know that if your work isn’t there- yep, that’s because there’s always room for improvement! Get excited about the possibilities for the future because you can reach them! You don’t need to feel awful about where you’re at.
4. I’ll release the work if it could help somebody.
As opposed to “I’ll release this work if it’s professional quality/good enough”.
Some really low-quality works have changed my life.
Some really high-quality works have done nothing for me.
The quality of your work is only really important insofar as it helps change somebody’s life for the better- insofar as it helps the work accomplish its purpose.
Is your sketch, comic, etc possibly going to help somebody? If so, don’t worry about whether or not it’s perfect- if it could help somebody, regardless of its quality, it’s worth getting out there!
Of course, keep growing- but don’t assume that your work has to be perfect to help. That’s a lie. Some of the most encouraging words you’ve ever heard probably have come from awkward people who didn’t know quite what to say- or people who started there and moved forward.
5. I need to remain focused on vision.
As opposed to “I need to remain focused on quality”.
Where quality is essential to accomplishing your purpose, you’ll naturally be driven to work towards quality.
But where it’s not or it’s keeping you from your momentumative best, you’ll willingly drop it- because you have a purpose, a vision, that you must press towards- and that vision is more important than quality because your ultimate goal is to change somebody’s life even if not in the most-professional-ever way.
6. I’ll focus on a target audience.
As opposed to “I must please everybody”.
Nobody gets upset when somebody allergic to peanuts says no a peanut butter sandwich.
That scenario is similar to somebody who is triggered by something in your story- your story’s likely fine, the person just has a trigger!
Nobody gets upset when somebody with no facial hair doesn’t buy a razor for their face.
People don’t all need what you have to offer- and you’ll feel a lot less offended at that when you work from a vision. Because your vision isn’t likely for everybody- it’s for a group of people who need your help!
When you have a vision, you know who you’re making your story for- and if that vision sticks, you’ll be okay when people don’t like or need your work.
Different people have different needs physically, mentally, and emotionally, and your story solves different problems that not everybody has or that not everybody needs solved in that way.
Now if people who you are targeting don’t like your work, that’s a time to examine your work moreso. Even then, if you’re driven by vision, you’re not going to struggle as much as if you’re driven by whether or not people like your work!
I struggle with these. It’s so easy to lose focus on the goal of helping people, or to lose focus on a target market, or to release imperfect work. But it’s important if we’re going to keep growing and become everything we can be- but hey, there’s always better, so let’s look at the future with hope because we will reach better!
Do you have any mindset shifts not on the list that have helped you with your work?