I wrote the first draft of this beast over six days back in February.
It’s now the beginning of April and I’m still pushing at it. Bit by bit.
Thing is, I could be done by now. I could have revised and published it. The problem was that I realized it could be better. Way better.
There is always a tension between getting it done and shipping, and making it perfect and shipping. I’m trying to hit the sweet spot in between.
There have been days I’ve considered binning the whole thing (yeah, I said binning because it’s fun to say that as if I’m a Brit or something). But then my wife read the first five chapters and responded with enthusiasm.
I’m pressing forward, even while feeling quite ill for the past five days. Today I set out to murder a particularly lovely darling. The result? Two brand new chapters. I can’t speak for other creatives, but sometimes it takes time.
In the end, I don’t want to put out a novel I wouldn’t want to read. So I’m doing my best to make it awesome.
You are also the first reviewer of your work. Because if you release it to the world, you are in fact saying, “I recommend that you listen to this. Read this. Watch this. Buy this.”
The good news is that this means you create the work for yourself. And then you trust that the world needs your point of view. In fact, that gets to the fundamental audacity of creative work. You must believe that what you’re inventing is necessary.
That’s why—when it gets really tough to keep going—you have to dig deeper. Because if you’re going to do it, it has to matter to you.
Some days nothing seems to matter. The project has no energy behind it. The news on TV seems like noise with no significance. The book on your nightstand has nothing to offer. That big goal—weight loss, saving up for a down payment on a house, going on that trip, getting published, booking that next gig, starting a business, getting married, whatever—has lost its gravity, its ability to pull you toward it.
You recognize the feeling. You’re even aware that it’s a passing thing, a phase, a momentary mood. And yet, the best you can manage is to lift the remote control and fire up the next episode of That 70′s Show on Netflix.
I’m not a mental health expert. I can’t diagnose or treat depression. Maybe that’s what it is, maybe it isn’t.