Take the risk. It’s enough.
You start out and it’s a blank page. That is it. It doesn’t get any better or worse. Really when we think about creative impulse, a blank page is all there is. This is the same blank page that birthed Citizen Kane and Sharknado, Sonic Youth and Nickleback.
So you stare at it with equal blankness, with the urge to make something great, something profound. To write something that literally starts a fire, that burns down your desk.
You want to make something that impresses your mom, that makes your ex-girlfriends regret dumping you. Something your father shows off to his colleagues. Something that makes your wife blush with pride.
You imagine your work is so tasteful that it is featured in DWELL magazine, so compelling and new that Sean Parker calls to invest in you, so funny that Todd Barry compliments you on your timing. You are so earnest and true that Ian MacKaye actually writes you a letter hoping for a response. Your words are so powerful that Ira Glass cries when he hears them for the first time.
You offer something so astute that academics laud over it, politicians celebrate your courage and declare your words a national treasure.
Teenagers are inspired by you, they tattoo your passages across their necks, they mosh while reading your essays. They grunt your words between heated back alley make-out sessions, planning to overthrow the government and their parents.
All because of your blank page.
You can feel this all bubbling inside of you, but you have your doubts: What if you aren’t perfect? What if nobody is looking? What if you misspell something? What if someone calls out your bias? What if you say something dumb? What if your joke flops? What if your voice trembles? What if it’s been said before? What if you offend someone? What if you don’t? What if it doesn’t matter? What if you don’t matter?
So you freeze. And your whole life passes you by and you never fill out your page because of your fear of not being great enough. Other people have better ideas, you grow bitter and cold. You swipe at anyone brave enough to try. You shut down and you spread regret throughout your bloodline and into your work. You create a culture of shame. You smother creativity and you fight off innovation. You take solace in the mundane, your world shrinks and you finish comfortably.
That could be it. Nice and tidy, but right now your page is still blank. It isn’t written yet. You have plenty of time. So why not just start? Don’t question it. Take the risk. It’s enough.
David Lewis is the Director of Career and Alumni Services at McNally Smith College of Music and the founder of Riot Act Media. He lives in Roseville, MN with his wife and two awesome boys.