A whole slew of people in the creative realm, maybe even everyone, allows themselves to believe a debilitating lie, and the lie is that your pursuit — be it blogging, writing a book, taking award-winning photographs, or penning songs — is consumed by enough talent already. There’s this littler whisper in our brains that shows up when we’re working on a project that tells us, in more or less words, that this pursuit is already way over-saturated, so go kick rocks.
You might think hearing voices in your head would make someone insane, but au contraire, I think it’s totally NORMAL for creatives. And we must somehow acknowledge Mr. Lie-telling Voice, tell him “Thanks for your input,” and then ignore him and continue on with the work.
Imagine if a kid who wanted to be a doctor got to college and his biology professor told him, “You really shouldn’t go this route. There are hundreds of thousands of doctors in the world already. No one will need you.” Obviously, that would probably never happen, unless the professor is off his rocker.
But so many of us in the left-brain world get talked out of pursuing our creative goals because there is so much like them out there already. I was talking with my mom recently about a book, “Love Warrior” by Glennon Doyle Menton, that she just finished reading. (Let’s be honest. Everyone is reading this book right now. Thanks, Oprah.) She was telling me how taken she was by the raw, no-holds-barred, devastatingly honest account of this woman’s tumultuous life.
And I kept thinking how my mom’s own story isn’t so dissimilar.
My mom’s father was killed in a car accident when she was 11. She dropped out of high school so she could go to college (… who does that?). She married my dad, who was in medical school, and worked three jobs to support him as he did his residency.
They had four kids in the span of five years (WOOF), while moving all over the country for his school and work, and as a new doctor, my dad had to be gone a lot, so she raised us almost singlehandedly. Later on, some really unpleasant stuff (being mild with my word choice, here) went down, and my parents entered the divorce that never ends, practically.
I watched my mom’s world get turned upside down and shaken viciously for several years nonstop. And, now, she’s the strongest, purest of heart, most mentally tough fighter for all things good that I can call to mind.
This woman has got a story to tell, right?
Yet, during our conversation, my mom talked about how she’s read such similar accounts to her own, including “Love Warrior.” Although she’s talked for years about writing a book (she used to want to write one called “Men And Their Dumb-sticks,” WHICH I STILL THINK IS A NEW YORK TIMES-BESTSELLER IDEA), she expressed nervousness that she’d be reiterating someone else’s story. The “it’s been done, so I can’t do it” mentality, which I am oh-so-familiar with.
To which I said — totally unbiased, of course — “You are wrong.” I love how being adult now allows me to tell my mom that. Anytime I tried that when I was 7, it was just an uphill battle. Now, she actually listened.
My own story with this blog and other creative endeavors has been influenced by the over-saturation lie, too. In the past ten years, I’ve enviously watched blogging become a realistic career choice, where people actually make a living sharing the things they adore and creating a community on a website and social media outlets. (Twenty years ago, I’m pretty sure our parents and grandparents wouldn’t have been able to catch their breath between laughter at the thought of that.)
What made me so special to think my words and stories and thoughts deserve a place in that market that is so full of so many talented, worthy bloggers? This is the question I’ve asked myself lots and lots of times over the last year, until I finally realized (very recently) that the question is pointless.
Honestly, we need more people to join the mindset that the world is vast, our imaginations collectively as creatives are powerful and so wildly different, and there is no such thing as over-saturation or “too much” in this market, nor in any others. There are thousands of authors out there, and bloggers, and doctors, and entrepreneurs, and artists, and on and on and on.
But there will never be too many.
What sets apart those who are successful in what they do and those who just eventually peter out I believe is this key mindset: My story is worthy, my work is needed, and my voice is uniquely remarkable. I’ve told myself the opposite of that statement, and so has my mom and so have most likely all other creative-minded souls, but it’s a mistruth that we’ve got to stop, starting with a “me first” approach. If your story is similar to someone else’s, that’s great — lucky, even. You already have a built-in audience who read that other story and who will have an automatic interest in yours. Spin it into a positive, and you, and your story/blog/creative endeavor, will find something really awesome when you start and continue your work.