Merlin Mann’s whole post (loosely summarized to being about getting started by tackling the difficult thing no matter what it takes) is the best thing I’ve read on the internet in a while. I especially liked the list of fears (fear of apathy, fear of ambiguity, fear of disconnection, fear of imperfection, fear of incompletion, fear of isolation, fear of sucking, fear of fear itself), and also the voice of the Lizard Brain (aka that voice that criticizes everything you do, including any attempt to quiet it down):
To make matters worse, when it comes to strictly creative endeavors like making art, your regular, old, garden-variety fears find an enthusiastic ally in the entirely rational, if philistine, voice of your Lizard Brain.
Listen for it, because that voice speaks so often and with such consistency and unquestioned authority that it can begin to sound like common sense—even intuition. It’s the voice that sees you thinking about making something, then calmly, firmly reminds you where you’re going wrong, wrong, wrong:
- Grow up. “You already have plenty of things to do with your Real-Life Obligations without wasting time dicking around with some doofy ‘art’ project. That’s for kids and people with sandals in California. So, stop being childish.”
- Eat your vegetables. “Even if you cannot be talked out of making something, remember that those Real-Life Obligations all need to be completely taken care of before you even consider trotting off to pretend you’re David Foster Wallace. So, stop having fun.”
- No one notices and no one cares. “Why bother? Even if you were talented and interesting (which you’re not), you know no one will notice if you never make anything at all. Because no one really cares. Including you. So, stop trying.”
- Your time’s passed, Li’l DaVinci. “Seriously, look at yourself. If you were ever going to be anything other than what you are or make anything other than what you’ve already made, you would have done it years ago. It’s too late now. So, stop evolving.”
See? What’d I say? The lizard’s a dick, too.
I’ve been thinking a lot about fear, self-criticism, etc. I know enough about myself to know that I don’t really have trouble starting things. I’m not afraid of starting. My Lizard Brain is more concerned about opportunity cost… what am I missing out on? Is the direction I’m going in going to work? Should I course-correct, hop to another boat, or maybe try to merge boats somehow?