A trick for writers and artists: create with low expectations

I did an interview with ABC radio host Mary-Lou Stephens the other day, chatting about food sustainability. Before I went on air she shared she’s just finished writing her latest book (she’s written several) and actually loved the process this time, churning it out in just three months. What was different this time, I asked (as most creatives do when they come across someone who’s found a smooth oeuvre in what is a painful process).

“I reminded myself daily that no one cares,” she said. “I swear, it gave me the freedom to just get the bugger done.”

Or as Seth Godin says, “real artists ship”. They. Just. Get. It. Out.

That same day I came across an Elizabeth Gilbert interview done in the wake of her latest book Big Magic: Creative Living Beyond Fear.

“Every time I hear someone talk about discipline all I see is the scratch marks on the walls they left with their fingernails. All that anxiety. You’ve got to take it easy on yourself. You’re doing an inherently weird thing. You’re investing time and money into making something that nobody asked you to do. It’s inherently a wacky thing to do. You’re going to have strange feelings, especially about the uselessness of it all. But then you think, I’m going to stay with it, because it’s more interesting than anything else.”

Again, there’s freedom in pivoting from a low base, namely that the insane thing you’re doing is merely marginally more interesting than anything else. Yeah. That’s enough.

I’ve written about the joy of low expectations before. Check it out.

I’m writing another book. A totally different book. It’s due in February. This insight alleviated things…and sometimes that’s all we need.

Have you experienced this same relief…and subsequent ability to then choof on with surprising productivity?

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