Diamonds are precious because we think they’re scarce. They’re not.
We get precious about our work because we think creative opportunity is scarce. It isn’t.
Want to cure writer’s block? Adopt an abundance mindset:
- There are more than enough readers for the work I want to make.
- There is more than enough money to get paid for my work.
- There is more than enough time to do all the work I want to do.
Everyone will try to convince you otherwise. Mark spam and delete. Scarcity kills creativity.
My high school guidance counselor told me to use all my seven application slots for the various city colleges. It was the best I could hope for. (I did not listen, thankfully.)
In fact, my entire high school was obsessed with the apparent scarcity of college seats in this crazy game of musical chairs. High-achieving kids, top-tier SAT scores, all worried we were going to get locked out of the game. We stood around studying the U.S. News college rankings and calculating our chances for different schools using our TI-82 programmable calculators. (I went to a nerdy school.)
For some reason, writers do this to each other. I think we think it’s tough love when we’re doing it, trying to convince other writers that they aren’t very likely to be successful at writing, that there isn’t enough opportunity to go around.
The New Yorker did it again in their last issue. First, we had the viral Christmas song lady. This time, it was writer Sarah Cooper who wrote a funny piece, put it on the Internet, and was suddenly offered a three-book deal. In the New Yorker, creative success only happens mysteriously, almost magically. Breaking through with your work is always an unexplained, unexplainable phenomenon of extraordinary luck or manifest destiny. It’s not, in other words, for you, because you worked hard and did a good job and didn’t give up.
We do this to each other because we hurt others the way we’ve been hurt ourselves. The cycle of abuse continues until you’re willing to say, hey, go for it, pal. There’s room for everyone in this sandbox.
I didn’t think I had to time to write this today, but here we are. There was enough.