No Status Quo

By Serdar Yegulalp on 2024-01-21 17:00:00-05:00 No comments

I once believed the best thing for me to do as a writer would be to seek out the kind of material that I could just write automatically, effortlessly, thoughtlessly even. I came to the conclusion not all that long ago that I didn't want to write anything that would be that easy, because it wouldn't compel me to play over my own head and stretch myself.

Complacency hurts. I'm not happy with the idea that I haven't moved since the last time I sat down to make something. I see too many examples of other people who have reached a complacent equilibrium with their work before they've even progressed beyond the talented-amateur stage.

To be charitable, maybe they just think of their work as a hobby — something they are not trying to actually get any better at, but just to have something to fill time with. I don't have a problem with that mindset, but a) I don't share it for what I'm doing, and b) I think it helps to be as conscious as you can about your real motives for these things.

Some of this stems from me being upset at how every one person we have that's not upping their game is one less chance we have at getting something really wonderful, something that breaks molds and turns heads. On the other hand, I would rather people produce something than nothing.

I do, however, have to be careful to not conflate growth efforts with mere self-inflicted pain to no good end. A couple of times now I've bitten off projects that turned out to be too big to chew, and had to put them back down before nearly choking to death on them. Worse, I learned a lot less from those experiences than I wanted to give myself credit for. I wanted to say "Well, I learned about Topic X" (something I'd ostensibly been researching for the project), but the most realistic thing I could say was, "I must be at least this tall to get on that ride."

All of this is, I suppose, my own incarnation of the idea that you are better off comparing yourself to what you were before than to others now. And that those comparisons need to be about the most relevant area of comparison. Am I better at handling failure now than I was ten years ago? Better at choosing projects I seem suited to? Less thin-skinned? More curious?

Tags: creativity creators writers writing