Worth doing badly


I’ve noticed something about people who follow their passions on a regular basis. I’m talking about the people who are really excited about that one thing – they talk about it, they go to conventions about it, they buy the latest gadgets for it, and they sometimes forget to eat or sleep while they’re doing it. They would do it for free. It could be music, or programming, or basketball. Whatever it is, it won’t leave them alone.

The thing I’ve noticed about them is that they aren’t afraid to experiment – and even fail badly – in their field, on a regular basis. They try stuff out. They create stuff that might be brilliant, or might be embarassing, but either way, they try it and put it out there.

Hence the expression: Anything worth doing is worth doing badly.

I’ve also noticed that the people who are very passionate about something, and keep doing that thing regardless of criticism for their failures, often end up better than anyone else at it. Of course, right? That’s a pretty obvious conclusion. If you practice your guitar for five hours a day, or lock yourself in your room with your computer until the sun comes up, eventually you’ll be more skilled at it than other people who never try it. If you have the passion to spend all your time on it, you will become a pro eventually.

The problem is, a lot of people (myself included) are too scared of failure and criticism, or just not passionate enough about one thing – or perhaps too repressed to even know what that passion is, even if it is bubbling under the surface. So, given the choice between wasting time on entertainment, or pursuing a hobby, the entertainment wins out.

It’s not that I ever made a decision early in life to devote my whole life to being entertained. I just made new decisions in each of a million moments to entertain myself rather than get really good at something and make a career out of it.

So, here I am at 37, trying to decide what I want to do for the rest of my life. And then, I have to decide in each of the next million moments to devote my time to that instead of other crap. It would be easy if I felt really passionate about doing that one thing all the time.

Writing is the obvious thing that everyone says I’m really good at. Sometimes, I really enjoy writing. Trouble is, a writer’s life is not easy. It takes a lot of discipline. Unfortunately, I was born with a talent to write but not the discipline to go with it.

So, now what? I want to write. I just don’t always choose to write when faced with an equally enticing option to play video games instead (even, ironically, when the video game requires a lot of effort).

I guess I just have to do what all the great writers tell everyone that “wants to be a writer” – I have to write. Yes, even when I don’t feel like I have anything to say, or when I want to do something else, or when I feel sleepy, or any of the other quadrillion excuses I’ve found not to write.

Okay. So, here I am. It’s 2:30 in the morning. I got home from a party at 11:00. I played a video game for a couple hours. I finished the game. I could have gone to bed. But the idea for this blog post has been bugging me the last couple days, so I’m writing it down.

I need to write.

I’m writing.

So there.

It’s not the most inspirational, awesome piece of prose that I’ve written this year, but like I said, anything worth doing is worth doing badly. So here I am with my bad writing.

And now that I’ve hit 650 words, I’m going to bed.

Thanks for reading.

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About Craig

Craig lives in Calgary, Alberta.
This entry was posted in growth. Bookmark the permalink.

2 Responses to Worth doing badly

  1. Tara says:

    “I can make a mistake and not fail” – I have spent many moments pondering this possibility.

    • Craig says:

      Yes. Possibility.

      I have been opening up to possibility myself, lately – realizing that life is full of experiments, where I can try something out to see how it will fly, not knowing the outcome ahead of time. It may not be 100% safe, but I’ve found that trying to avoid risk for too long just gets really depressing and lonely. So it’s time for me to step out.

      Thanks for stopping by!

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