I’ve got a terrible confession to make. Most of the creative projects I did were in order to answer one simple question: Am I good enough?
What a waste of time and energy. Years later, I look at all the songs, stories, books, and I find that, with a couple of exceptions, I’m about as good as I always was. This constant struggle to prove myself has gotten me nothing but product.
I like the products. But they’re mostly about how “good” I am, at writing, at singing, at playing, at composing. They aren’t really about anything, of no use to anyone, and so they just take up space in my writing desk.
At 50 years old, I’m beginning to get tired of asking myself whether I’m good enough. Life is short, and time is running out. Lately, I’ve been creating for different reasons.
I’m going to admonish those of you who create, or perform, or do anything at all. Don’t just do it to prove how good you are. Find better reasons to do your art than gauging your right to do it, or even your right to exist and take up space.
The question of your value won’t go away just because you want it to. You have to get it settled and out of your head somehow. There are several ways to do that.
- 1. Get a degree. Aside from the contacts you’ll make, the degree is good for one thing: to establish to you and to anyone who hires you that you have done the work and you’re “good enough.” No one, including you, will have to wonder anymore.
- 2. Succeed. You can’t really get a degree at being a rock star, so if you’re a rock star, go out and start making fans. Play little stages that get you to a big stage. Get a million hits, or a thousand, on some video you posted. It takes work, but there are ways to succeed that are quantifiable. You’ll be able to say, “Okay, I’m good enough.”
- 3. Make money. Having a degree and playing big stages don’t necessarily bring any money. There are ways to earn a buck with your writing or your music that aren’t necessarily glorious but pay well - advertising, playlist libraries, freelancing. If you’re earning a certain amount, you’ll be able to know that you have something of value to offer.
Some people don’t need these things. They have an inner conviction and they just go out there and do their thing. Good for them.
You may have to take the time to do one of these things so that question won’t be bothering you anymore, so you can get out there and do your thing, and focus on the right questions: What does my audience need? What do I have to do to change the world? What would make me happy?
When you start answering those questions, you’ll be living your life. I’ll be living mine too. Let me know what you come up with!
News From a Jazz Musician Who Writes Books
I've changed my bio! What do you think? http://www.acole.net/how_i_got_here/
Motherless Child, my novel about an America split into black and white has finally been released for sale. Buy it now! Amazon: https://www.amazon.com/gp/offer-listing/1644380153/ref=tmm_pap_new_olp_sr?ie=UTF8&condition=new&qid=1560990201&sr=8-1
Reviews make all the difference in whether Amazon keeps it available, so please review it!
Adam Cole is a Jazz Musician Who Writes Books. Fantasy author, music educator and performer, Adam chats weekly on the subject of listening, creativity and living your best life. To get a free book on marketing tips for passing out fliers, getting on your own radio show, and writing a blog people will read, please go to www.mymusicfriend.net and subscribe.