I know this—what Mike Birbiglia’s talking about in his New York Times article (link below)—to be true from my own experience. You have to think (or learn to think) differently about what exactly is success (and how you can accomplish it).
Because it’s tough—really hard—creating and putting what you create out there for others to either love, like, dislike, hate or sometimes even shit all over. Assuming they (the others) don’t tell you why they feel that way about your work, it’s important to ask, or discern, why. You quickly learn from that experience how to improve what you do so a creation doesn’t see the light of day if it’s crappy. But you have to be willing to get it ‘out there’ even if it’s not perfect. As creators we have to see where the flaws are—through others eyes—so we can either fix them in the current work or learn not to repeat them in the future. And an absence of comment, whether positive or negative, can often be just as telling. That can mean ‘no chord was struck.’ I know as a writer I want to have at least something, within what I’ve written, resonate with the reader.
Because when you set your own metric for what is meaningful—and not what the ‘experts’ and ‘industry’ says your creativity is worth—then you get to a crucial point in your life as a creator. [And this holds true in personal life, but that’s worth another post on its own.] You get to where you’ve freed yourself to fail and to learn from it, you can be bold and not fear the outcome.
My two favorite parts of the article I mention above (which I recommend reading in its entirety—especially as it also touches on what if you’re just really not cut out to be a creator), italics are mine for emphasis, are:
1) “The point is, forget the gatekeepers. As far as I’m concerned, what you create in a 30-seat, hole-in-the-wall improv theater in Phoenix can be far more meaningful than a mediocre sitcom being half-watched by seven million people. America [I’d change that to the World] doesn’t need more stuff. We need more great stuff. You could make that.”
Don’t wait for gatekeepers or someone’s approval to create something and present it to the world. That approach has proved worthwhile for me. Maybe it will be for you, too.
2) “CLEVERNESS IS OVERRATED, AND HEART IS UNDERRATED. Plus, there are fewer people competing for heart, so you have a better chance of getting noticed. Sometimes people say, ‘One thing you have to offer in your work is yourself.’ I disagree. I think it’s the only thing.”
If you don’t know yourself—in your ‘heart of hearts’—then it’s difficult to reach others. The best creators, I believe, own who they are and what they’ve experienced. And that’s what shines through in their work.
LINK TO THE NEW YORK TIMES ARTICLE: http://www.nytimes.com/2016/09/04/movies/mike-birbiglias-6-tips-for-making-it-small-in-hollywood-or-anywhere.html