Anyone trying to do their best is disconnected from everyone else. Trying to do your best makes you less fun to watch and less fun to perform with.
We’ve all received the advice “do your best.’ It’s supposed to release you from your fear of failure by saying that if you do your best work and still fail, no one can fault you for just plain not being good enough. Which is actually not very reassuring if you think about it.
Well, when it comes to creativity, trying to do your best will pull you out of the moment. It will disconnect you from the feedback of an audience and your natural impulses. You’ll be in your head trying to define what your “best” actually is instead of doing what naturally comes next.
It not only makes the work less fun, it makes working with you less fun.
Trying to do your best is an invitation to judgement and anxiety when it comes to creative work.
Scared people think verbally.
There is a lot packed into this simple sentence. Scared people are writing a story in their head. Scared people explain what they’re doing. Scared people review their own creations before anyone else can. Scared people justify the limited nature of what they’re presenting. Scared people feel like they need to repeat their story over and over again because they think you didn’t hear or understand it the first time.
Scared people don’t look around for tools to solve a problem, they’re up in their head talking about it. This is one of the cornerstones of “writer’s block.” Instead of doing something, we start talking about it.
The audience gets great pleasure from the obvious. If you run into a frog with a bible in the forest, he should be on his way to bible class not to go to an amusement park.
Audiences love being invited into what you’re doing. They want to move with you and be delighted by their own participation in your thought process. Even if you’re challenging them, they want what you’re doing to make sense. They want to have rules that they can follow.
If frogs can carry bibles in the world you’re creating, they should be able to go to church. Don’t try to outsmart your audience with surprises when you can be obvious and delight them.
Audiences love to watch people fail and then succeed. If you fail three times, when you finally succeed, the audience will be behind you with loud applause. All audiences want to be there on the night when everything goes wrong. If you can fail well enough and cheerfully enough.
Your audience, which is not everyone in the world, wants you to succeed. They are rooting for you. They admire your honest attempts. They’re with you in your struggles. When you finally achieve what you’re trying for, everyone will want to be there.
Audiences don’t want you to bitter or angry about your failures. They don’t want to watch you blame other people or sit and silently stew about how unfair everything is. They want you to smile, shrug and keep trying.
The process of failing well is actually part of the story of your eventual success. Reacting badly will only delay it or make you a villain when you actually achieve it.
Failing well attracts creativity, and audiences, like a magnet.