To make good stuff, you need to make bad stuff
No. 14: Pointing your way: books I've read in 2022, an animated poem, an interactive rush-story and more
During the week, I stumbled across a video essay on the dialectics of Rick and Morty by CJ The X. I haven’t finished the video, so I don’t know if I’d recommend it yet, but I was struck by its opening section about Justin Roiland’s creation process. In short, he’s a man unafraid to execute his ideas — regardless of how good they are.
CJ riffs on this to talk about perfectionism and how it’s toxic to creativity. Too often creatives — such as myself — who are too afraid of starting something are not so much worried about bad art existing, rather the fear is rooted in anxieties about what the bad art might say about you. It has more to do with guarding your own pride than it is about respect for art.
If your fear of making something bad prevents you from creating anything, this serves no one but your own insecurities. You have to drop any notion of genius and embrace being an amateur. Like everyone else, you have good ideas and bad ideas. And you can’t differentiate between them unless you try to execute them. So stop holding yourself back to protect yourself from the bad ideas. All you’re doing [in CJ’s words] is “depriving the universe of your good ideas.”
“You end up making good stuff by making a bunch of bad stuff,” says Dan Harmon. It’s a truism I think most creatives know, but it’s an essential reminder sometimes.
So this is a note to you — as well as myself — to make stuff. Good or bad, just make it.
✍️ WRITING REPORT
One of my author friends used to write her best friend a Final Fantasy fanfiction every year just for her on her birthday. Over the years, I’ve also tried to gift my writing in some form to people in my life in the form of poems, letters or long messages in cards.
This year, for one of my closest friends’ birthday, I wrote a personalised short story. The experience was thrilling and seeing the joy on her face has reminded me of why I fell in love with creative writing so many years ago.
If you’re in a creative slump, I’d highly recommend creating something and gifting it to someone you care about. For writers, it’s also good practice for writing with an ideal reader in mind.
I’m also revisiting some old poems and looking to polish them up. I want to try and submit some for publication. However, there will be others that will make an appearance here, on the blog and on my new Instagram: @jwsjournal.
SEE ALSO — new online journal entry: 📚 Books I’ve read (so far) in 2022 📚
👉 POINTING YOUR WAY
A list of things I wanted to share:
🎮 I recently subscribed to Kristoffer Tjalve’s newsletter Naive Weekly, which is a personal letter he sends every Sunday “to reflect on what [he is] observing and to let [himself] get lost in the ever-evolving Internet Wilderness.” Something I loved from last week’s issue was Sugarcane: an interactive rush-story where you have 10 seconds with the woman you love before everything is wiped out. What would you do? Play and test your options.
📝 Kevin Kelly turned 70 and shared 103 bits of advice he wished he had known when he was young. There are some really good nuggets of wisdom here. One of my favourites: “Productivity is often a distraction. Don’t aim for better ways to get through your tasks as quickly as possible, rather aim for better tasks that you never want to stop doing.” (👉 Pointed my way by Austin Kleon).
📝 Brad Esposito does great interviews for his Very Fine Day newsletter. His recent issue interviewing P.E. Moskowitz (writer of the Mental Hellth newsletter) was excellent. Amongst the discussed topics was a paper by one of the founders of BuzzFeed, which Moskowitz previously covered in their must-read essay “The BuzzFeedification of Mental Health.”
📝 What does class in the UK even mean anymore? This is the question posed by Emma Garland in her contribution to Dazed’s “Class Ceiling” series. There are several good pieces in this series, and I especially like James Greig’s piece on the middle-class urge to construct a narrative of struggle.
▶️ Losing faith in democracy? Same, and we’re not alone. Grace Blakely explains why in this short video for Double Down News.
▶️ What’s the opposite of a gun? This is the central question of the US writer and teacher Brendan Constantine’s poem “The Opposites Game” — beautifully animated by Anna Samo and Lisa LaBracio. If you only click on one link in this newsletter, I’d make it this one!
🐦 TWITTER THOUGHTS
📅 MENTAL HEALTH AWARENESS WEEK
Around October/November 2020, I was at the lowest point I’d found myself in for a very long time. The kind of low where you feel you’re on a rapid trajectory to rock bottom with no hope of climbing out of the hole you’ve fallen into.
My most common impulse was to escape the bad thoughts and seek out worse thoughts by doomscrolling Twitter. But during one of these despairing spirals, I stumbled across a friend’s tweet about how Samaritans had an email service for those who weren’t comfortable calling on the phone.
Well, I thought, I’m much better at expressing myself in the written form. It sounded like the lifeline I needed. So I poured everything I wanted to say into a lengthy email to email@example.com and got a reply even quicker than expected. What followed was a correspondence over the course of a week that helped me rekindle a flicker of hope in the future.
I knew there were services I could reach out to for help. But when you’re feeling that low, thinking about how to help yourself isn’t so easy. I read that tweet at the time I most needed to see it.
Sending out a reminder of what services are available, via whatever platform you have, is always worthwhile. It might just be the time someone most needed to see it.
🤷♂️ STRAY LINKS
Thank you so much for reading! If you were sent this newsletter or stumbled across it by some other means, you can get future newsletters like this in your inbox every fortnight by subscribing below. And if you think someone else would enjoy this content, I’d love it if you could share it with them.
That’s all from me for now. I look forward to speaking to you again in two weeks’ time.
If you have any thoughts you’d like to share then I’d love to hear them. And you can do so by leaving a comment below.
Until next time!
John Wesley Stammers