On Creating for the New Year

This post was migrated over from my tumblr

As you may know if you read the Notes app on my phone, my new year’s resolutions this year included writing more blog posts here on this blog. Along with that were promises to finish videos, write a few songs, and continue to try and placate the two-headed creativity/recognition monster.

What I mean is that often when I sit down to write or make a movie or play guitar, I get stage fright of what people might think once the thing is out in the world. This anticipation of the need for recognition defeats the creativity before it gets going. Perhaps a two-headed monster isn’t the best metaphor but you get the idea.

One thing I admire about Google is their idea that everything is in beta—they release things before they’re ready in order to benefit from feedback. Any why don’t we apply that idea to producing literature or art? Because as artists it’s our job alone to decide on the doneness of what we make? I think that maybe it’s time to stop judging worth on where the artist left the thing before putting it out in the world, but on the way the artist harnesses feedback to grow an idea, a story, a song.

I love Father John Misty. Josh Tillman put together a beautiful album with “Fear Fun.” But as he toured, the songs became better and better. He changed lyrics, like in “Writing A Novel” where

And livin’ on amusement rides… (source)

became

And livin’ lives that look like mine… (source)

Which to me makes so much more sense and is a more elegant way of tying things together in the song. Right now he’s touring new songs with the old ones and I assume the next album will benefit from this (if you will) artistic beta testing. 

So my pledge for the new year is not just to create and then sweat it out in the editing stage telling myself “no it’s not ready.” The new motto is, “Yeah, it’s not ready, but I’m putting it out there.”

And you should do the same.

More clickin’:
Austin Kleon on creativity (Brain Pickings)
Ira Glass on putting out creative work (Which I found in this month’s Rookie Mag editor’s letter)