Don’t Dismiss Progress

Tell me if this scenario sounds familiar: you spend some time making something (a drawing, a story chapter, a poem) and you feel pretty good about it. But then you see someone else’s work and you suddenly realize that your work just isn’t good enough. It doesn’t compete. A feeling of inadequacy washes over you, and you’re not sure you know why you got into this craft anyway.

(Sorry if that stressed you out.)

We all know we’re not supposed to compare our work with the work of more experienced artists. That’s pretty much just asking to demotivate yourself, so y u do that. We do it anyway, of course. But do you know what the worst part of it is? We’re dismissing all of the progress we’ve made. We look at the finished result, and we forget about the hours and effort that went into it, all because it’s not “enough.” 

You aren’t in the same place you started, and that’s a big deal! Just embarking on the journey is a big step, and continuing to take steps at all is always a very good thing. You may not always feel inspired, but the important thing is that you make an effort to pursue your mission. Maybe you see someone else who has seemingly arrived at a destination you like… that’s okay! You’ll get there eventually!

Just because you have far to go, doesn’t mean you haven’t come far.

Maybe someone else’s work serves as a painful reminder that we have a long, difficult road ahead, and we let that fact overwhelm us. But never, ever forget that you’ve already come a long ways. If you’ve already put pencil to paper, you’ve already made the leap that thousands are afraid to take. If you’ve revised a crappy draft, you’ve already invested the effort that others lazily skip. Maybe the results aren’t perfect, but if you HAVE results then you’re on the right track.

Sure, someone else might have a piece of work that looks better than yours. But it isn’t yours and therefore it doesn’t actually matter to your goals. Give yourself some credit for time put in… and then put some more time in.

Author’s Note: This blog post works best if followed by “Eye of the Tiger” or a similarly motivating fight song.

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