Stop Blaming Your Tools

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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. 

Carly is the founding editor of Smaggle which launched in 2007 back when blogging was weird. She has appeared in The Sydney Morning Herald, The Age, Cosmopolitan and Cleo magazines. Hoop earrings are totally her thing and she almost got run over by Myf Warhurst while out jogging one day.


  1. Top-notch as always, lady! Two mega thumbs up 🙂

  2. emmabovary 2 years ago

    You are so right x

    • Author
      Smaggle 2 years ago

      Sometimes I need to remind myself that a sunfilled manhattan loft home office is the reward, not the incentive. 🙂

  3. Tahlia Meredith 2 years ago

    Spot on! I’d also add that if you do want to learn something, don’t start to use THAT as an excuse too. I recently realised I have a block when it comes to implementing what I’m learning, so my new personal challenge is to get out there with my new-smarts – otherwise I’m just hiding in education.

    • Author
      Smaggle 2 years ago

      Totally. Education is useless if you don’t action it.

  4. Just what I needed.

  5. beautyholicsanonymous 2 years ago

    But but but…just one more camera for better blog pictures! Pretty please? 😛

    PS: Love your post. Spot on x

    • Author
      Smaggle 2 years ago

      Ha! Well okay…. just one more camera!

  6. I read this post on the bus after a rather shitful start to my day. Time and technology were against me. After reading this, instead of blaming my laptop for being a bit old and crap, and me for not being organised enough, I took a deep breath and smiled…and then tried again. And it all came together! Thanks for sharing such a brilliant piece with us. x

    • Author
      Smaggle 2 years ago

      Oh I’m so glad! You’re welcome love. It’s all about just getting on with it!

  7. Seana Smith 2 years ago

    Very true. I know that with time and effort I can do anything. Learn anything, cook, swim, run, write, photograph anything. So where is that time and effort being focused? But also sometimes it’s good to rest. Hello Long Weekend.

  8. Melissa 2 years ago

    This is perfect! I find I am in this position and so often I blame my tools, I will have to remind myself that I need to just push through 🙂


  1. […] Stop Blaming Your Tools – Carly Jacobs for Smaggle. I don’t think I blame my tools very often for the things that I don’t get done, but I do know that fear keeps me from doing quite a bit of things. Fear has kept me from pursuing many opportunities, and it keeps me from doing more here. After all, who is going to read it, who is going to care, what important do I have to say? […]

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