Have you ever had a bunch of ideas for a project and stood at the precipice only to stop dead in your tracks? Sure you have! Sometimes it feels as if we’re teetering on a high diving board before we begin something. We’ve done our preparation, we have our materials, we have told ourselves we HAVE to do this thing and we are ready to go. So we stand with our toes over the edge of our creative project staring down into the abyss at what looks like cold water below us. (Holy Metaphor Batman!) Worse yet, that water might have rocks underneath it! We might be killed when we jump off this cliff, and we’re only wearing a small bathing suit that covers the bare minimum of our intimate creative bits! (Ok, now my metaphor has lost its mind).
If you make stuff on a regular basis (and by stuff, I mean media or art of any kind) you have probably faced this many times. Writers refer to this as fear of the blank page, actors and improvisers get stymied by stage fright. Painters get, well I don’t know what painters get, but I’m sure they get something.
Recently I was creating a workshop and I had a ton of ideas on what I wanted to say and how it was going to happen, but I couldn’t get myself to begin. I had elements all picked out, I knew what my main message was but I couldn’t get myself to start. Why? I realized that I was terrified that it was going to suck!
I know that’s incredibly obvious but I think that’s what it comes down to for many of us. We might ask ourselves “Gosh, what if it’s terrible? What if we’re not as good as we think we are? What if this one piece of work reveals to the world that we have no place even pretending to be a creative person?”
So, we often find reasons to not begin. Common reasons include…
1: Hey, I’m a bit hungry and nobody else is going to eat that pork chop.
2: I should really re-watch season 2 of Game Of Thrones. (perhaps while eating a pork chop)
3: I haven’t dusted my light bulbs in a while and the neighbors are starting to talk.
We would rather do ANYTHING but start the creative process because it feels risky and vulnerable.
However, a person far wiser than me once said “The Best Way Out is Through”. My rough interpretation of that would be Barf it Out. Yep. Hike up your pants, square your jaw, look fear in the eye and just start.
Bring whatever it is to life in its ugly first draft stage. Let it be terrible. Make the worst first attempt that anyone has ever made. Why? Because then it will exist. Once you have that first try, then (Halleluiah!) you have something to work with. The best part is, the work is usually pretty darn good!
So barf it out in all its glory! Whether it’s a talk or a book or a blog or a drawing or a recipe for brussel sprouts. Once it exists you can congratulate yourself for having something, and then the rest of the process can start. In my own example of the talk for Waterloo, it actually went really well. The participants loved it and we had a blast.
Have you ever “barfed out a project” and actually found out it was better than you thought?