I have a mate who’s having a bit of a struggle with his creative endeavors and he refuses to see what the problem is. He’s a musician by trade and a very talented one. He has that lanky, languid, long-haired, slightly broken look about him that ensures he is constantly surrounded by young women who are begging for a heartbreaking. He also has these soulful eyes that make all the mother’s want to cook him spaghetti. He’s annoyingly blessed with the killer combination of talent and beauty, yet his career is stagnant.
My mate, let’s call him… Adam… has a problem that’s getting in the way of his success. He is constantly blaming his tools. As a song writer and guitarist he doesn’t need much more than some blank sheet music, a guitar and a pencil. He has all of those things and lots and lots of other things but somehow it just never seems to be enough.
‘I’ll write my next album when I can afford to buy The Very Best Most Excellent Guitar.‘
‘I can’t start recording until I can hire That Fancy Studio That Famous People Use and it has a two-year waiting list‘.
‘I won’t be able to create music until my Unique Special Snowflake Swedish Design Desk arrives in 8 weeks time.’
It’s no lie that lovely, shiny, expensive equipment makes most tasks a bit more pleasant but when a person becomes obsessed with the desire for the perfect kit, it becomes a dangerous excuse for a lack of creative achievement.
A brand new guitar won’t help my friend write a number one hit. He already has five guitars but his quest for the very best guitar keeps him nice and distracted from his real problem. He’s too scared to fail. If he keeps procrastinating, waiting and giving himself arbitrary deadlines for when he’ll start writing music, he doesn’t ever actually have to do anything and therefore, he can’t fail. It’s this twisted, subconscious logic that is keeping him frozen in time and I’ve seen it happen to most creatives at some point in their career.
Instead of waiting for the perfect circumstances and the ideal set of equipment why not just do something? Or learn something? Postponing painting a body of work until you can afford an expensive rooftop studio with $4000 a month rental price tag is silly. It’s not going to make you a successful artist. Go to the library, take out some books on your chosen subject, watch YouTube tutorials. Practice. Practice and practice. Keep practicing some more. Effort is the key to skill. Not Fender Stratocasters and Hasselblads.
If you’re finding yourself stuck in your creative pursuits, ask yourself what the issue might be. Chances are it’s not that ancient old laptop or your vintage camera. It’s probably fear.