It was 3am in the morning. I poured another cup of coffee and got back to my computer. For the last 4 hours I had been stuck revising--or just cutting down to nothing--my latest article.
It had a good idea, best intentions... and that's kind of it. It was nothing more than the kind of mediocre shit today's bloggers flood the Internet with.
I was aiming higher.
I wanted my writing to flow like Jame Altucher's or Ali Mese's essays. I wanted to have a stronger voice. My inner critic was going nuts.
"I can't show this to people," I said, after two more hours of trying to overcome this creative hurdle, and gave up.
I was in a gap.
Where creatives quit
When most creatives start out, they have a false perception that their taste is everything. Taste is just perception. It's intangible. It's nothing unless you have the skills to bring it to reality.
And then you reach that painful gap - a gap between taste and skills. You have good taste; you know what draws people in. Then you try to do something yourself and hit a brick wall.
Over the last 5 years, I've tried my hand at writing, graphic design, music, and photography. The hardest part of mastering these crafts was realizing that I couldn't live up to my taste.
I was reiterating to perfection. It took me weeks or months to release something that was still not perfect. That feeling when you work on something for a few months straight and it turns out to be a piece of shit drove me crazy.
I knew I lacked technical skills and practice. But my tolerance for such an amount of crap wasn't endless.
I always quit there. There is always a breaking point where my perfectionism takes hold. I'm sure I'm not alone.
It's a good sign
There's a positive side to this ...
If, looking at your own brainchild, you can say "It's a piece of shit," that's a good sign. In a sense. Most likely you have good taste, which will eventually distinguish you from the rest of the blind artists.
I just call them that.
You've probably seen lots of professional writers, photographers, or whatever, who have fully mastered their skill. They can create perfect work--technically. But it doesn't have soul. It it doesn't have that special thing that draws you in.
Their work doesn't have something that belongs only to them. It's a mediocre rip-off of the standard.
You must suck in the beginning. Your work in the first years is an endless stutter. Only your mom can bear how bad you are at this phase. You must hate it.
If you like it, you should be concerned.
Chances are you'll end up as a blind artist or that poor guy on the Xfactor stage who can't sing in tune and has no idea why the crowd is booing him out.
Art takes time. Expressing your inner self takes time. Perfection takes time. Taste is a unique fingerprint that can distinguish you from the rest. It's the backbone of creativity.
But a backbone without flesh is just a skeleton.
The courage to get naked
I tried to find them. This path, however, doesn't have shortcuts.
It's a long, bumpy road that you go down naked. You can't put on some loose clothes to hide your fat belly or skinny legs. All your imperfections and flaws are exposed.
Imperfection sucks, I know. The web curates the best, the most beautiful. It has globalized social comparison and set the bar high.
There's only one way out.
Getting past this phase comes down to your courage. The courage to create and show something that has many flaws and cracks.
It hurts... I know.
But it's hard work, lots of crap, and feedback that can bring us closer to our ambitions.
Or maybe it's just an illusion, a never-ending game.
I don't know. I haven't passed this phase yet.
This article has many flaws and cracks in my eyes, and I'm not proud of it. It was saved as a draft for I don't even remember how long. I didn't want it to go live, nor do I want now.
But it's the only way to get there...