In the past few weeks, I’ve been thinking about the creators in the world I’ve admired. Steve Jobs and Tupac Shakur are amongst my favourites.
When I think about their creative genius, two qualities strike me. The first is how prolific they were.
In the space of five years, Tupac created a dozen albums (and in total produced somewhere around 700-900 songs), eight films, music videos and even two books of poetry – all by the age of 25. Mind boggling. Over 25 years later and I still play at least one song of his each time I train.
The second quality is the finer details – the pursuit of excellence. Steve Jobs showed this with his insistence for little curves on the edges of the app icons. The calligraphy classes. The incredible launches to bring new products into the world. The campaigning attitude he’d bring to his work. The ability to drive frenzy over the art his company created. Tupac had an ability to package together poetry, rap and an ability to tell a powerful story like never before. Self-mastery at its finest.
But when analysing these creative geniuses, what stands out is their courage to ship daily. Their best work changed the world. But they both had clunkers too. Bad songs, albums, products and launches. Yet the question to consider is would the iPod, iPhone, iPad have come out without these clunkers? Would California Love, Dear Mama, Ambitions Az A Ridah have come out without the flops?
Probably not. But they were forgotten quickly in the presence of the remarkable.
It started with making mistakes with myself. Then my clients. Then coming up with words, phrases and methods to solve these mistakes.
The hardest bit about writing isn’t writing. It’s doing it daily without fear. Showing up every day.
The second hardest bit about writing is refining your words. Making it crystal clear for your readers.
Vomiting a bunch of words onto a document is easy. I wrote my first draft of 42,000 in 21 days. What came next was sheer brutality, and what I liken to the beautiful struggle of creating. Spending an hour agonising over one paragraph. Rewriting a sentence multiple times to make it land just right. Going for long walks thinking about the structure of a chapter.
Don’t say same thing twice in two words.
Delete very or really.
No passive voice.
You probably need to delete half of the sentence.
What point am I making?
Is it necessary?
Is it clear?
Is it as simple as possible?
Is it as short as possible?
No wonder I nearly collapsed. I remember it distinctly. Wednesday 29th January, two days before the first submission deadline. Sweaty palms, aching legs, fever symptoms. I was going editing mad, and the medicine was Bad Boys II. Great film, easy watch. And sleep. Lots and lots of sleep.
I can’t predict tangible returns, but I can always show up and get better.
I’m grateful for having this opportunity to write. Even if I’ve just vomited nearly 1500 words here without editing. I write for myself, but with the added bonus of my work having an ability to change thought, improve health, and transform lives. That’s a beauty I’m grateful for. It’s a beautiful intersection that drives my creativity.