I see people all the time who are too timid to put themselves out there because they’re afraid of not being good enough or that the timing just isn’t right. Only, the timing is never right; is never going to be right. So you might as well start. And so long as you are sufficiently self-critical, you’re probably never going to feel like you’re good enough, either. So again, the best thing you can do, is to get a move on.
Perfectionism is the enemy of progress. I’ve hit launch on a number of projects lately and not one of them has been anything describable as perfect or even all that polished. Our podcast is kind of a kinky mess, right now, and my new video memes are all very laughable indeed. But you know what? Fug’ it. I know overall there is so much good stuff in the both of them that it would be an offensive shame to withhold all those embedded invaluable elements because I’m afraid of a few people here and there giving me bad marks on production quality. Yo, man. This isn’t Hollywood. So YOU can relax.
Also, know this: For as long as you have something to say, and for as long as you have a position to take, people will always, always, always try and find a way to tear you down. They’ll say things that are mean and nasty and annoying and irrelevant. Or post about you on a forum, somewhere. It’s fantastic, the lengths people will go to hate. But all of this only means you’re making an impact. It’s a good thing, believe it or not. (Unless, of course, you really are worthy of being an internet laughing stock. Which is possible, in the case of some people. But generally that isn’t what happens.)
Part of the reason people hate is because they don’t agree with you. Very well. And certainly that’s bound to happen. Because you’re never going to get 100% consensus among the masses. Not now, not ever. I mean, you could say something like, “I think we should cure cancer, someday!”, and someone will be like, “Listen, you idiot, because here’s what you need to understand…” But the other part is maybe they’re just a teensy bit jealous of all the attention you’ve been collecting for yourself? Because it sucks wanting to live a “big, juicy, creative life” and not having done literally anything that other people think is worth talking about. So then it becomes very easy to pick apart all the stuff people actually are talking about–your stuff–and YOUR big, juicy, creative life.
So there are three ways you can go about handling haters, though only one really good way. The first is to ignore them. This is the proper way and probably the most effective and dignified. To just go on with your life, and let it be. The second is you can try to convince them–maybe engage a little bit. Be kind and see where it goes. (Good luck with that.) The third, of course, and only if you have the time, is to try and combat them. This is the most satisfying approach, but hardly a productive use of your time. So mostly I opt for option number one, until later at night, when I’m watching The Great British Baking Show, and I remember that “thing” someone said to me earlier, that really irked me. Then I flip on my phone and go all in on option number three, while keeping an eye on the technical challenge, to make sure Glenn doesn’t overstuff his pastry again. (Option number 3 is almost always entirely fruitless, like Glenn’s signature pot pie that he made. I don’t think I’ll ever understand why he went with savory over sweet, given the option. Whatever. I’m sorry, Glenn. It’s not you, it’s me.)
But here’s what I can leave you with, regarding all of this. The first time someone leaves a negative comment, replies with a long, brilliantly scathing email about the length of your nose hairs, etc, it’s going to feel like the worst thing in the world. It may very well keep you awake the entire night, or cause you to invest in a new nose hair trimmer from Target, especially if you’re one of those people who tends to be a little bit sensitive, like me. But then, you get used to it. Because nothing works like exposing yourself to the elements, and eventually you might even be able to laugh it off and turn all those ridiculous trolls into a positive, somehow. Sort of like how I’m trying to do now.
And also remember–because this is *technically* possible, though exceptionally rare in most cases, especially for people like you and me, who can proudly check off the box “some college”–that maybe, JUST maybe, you/we/I have made a mistake. Like, maybe we DID let our nose hairs get a little too long for civilized society. So keep in mind that there does exist a slim statistical chance that you COULD be wrong about something, and that someone’s feedback MAY be merited. Again, very unlikely. But just, you know. Don’t assume everyone is out to get you. Occasionally someone may only be trying to help.
So other than that you just have to start before you’re ready. Hit publish while you’ve still got the shakes, and send whatever damn thing it is that you’ve been working on out into the world. And if the world rejects it, so be it. It’s not like you only get one chance at all this. Rejections are merely opportunities to revise.
PS – Post something messy in the comments. Shitty first draft stuff. Here’s mine.
From Facebook: “One thing I’ve learned about the creative process is if you want to get something done, you have to be willing to make a mess at first. Perfectionism is the enemy of progress.
This is true for music, writing, business, you name it.
You can’t let wanting something to be perfect stop you from getting it done. You can always revise.
Shitty first draft of new riff I’m working on.”