This is an extension of the last post, Don’t Save Your Best Ideas For Later.
Don’t be afraid to top yourself. Once you have successfully created something, your instinct will be to stay safe and only change the formula only slightly when you begin your next project.
Instead, why not top yourself every single time? Why not set your standard for each project so high that while you’re working on it you can’t possibly conceive of any way to improve upon it. Burn up the concept behind your work so totally that by the end it is curled up exhausted in the corner of your brain.
Of course, this way of working requires an act of faith on your part. It means every time you start work on something you are entering uncharted territory – traveling through the bits of ancient maps that said “here be dragons” or “end of the world.” It requires you to trust that you don’t have a limited number of ideas and that you should parcel them out in tiny quantities in everything you do.
The phrase “Jumping the Shark” has made some people afraid to take chances this way. Inherent in its meaning is the idea that once a certain change is made, a concept or artist or actor or writer or series will never be good again. Truthfully, what kills most of these things is an extended lack of change that results in a gradual decline in quality and audience interest followed by a change forced from the outside onto an uninspired artist or team.
Instead of shark jumping, think about “Jump and a net will appear.” Take a chance that you might fail because you are unsure about where you’re heading next. The universe takes care of artists who jump off of creative cliffs without looking. Besides, if it doesn’t, you’ll land right next to another steep cliff you can jump off of and keep jumping until that net does appear.
Take the artistic champ of topping yourself every single time.
Jump and a net will appear.