If you’re going to count on the competition to bring out your best work, you’ve surrendered control over your most important asset. – Seth Godin
This Seth Godin blog post really speaks to me. He’s referring to business, but he could just as easily be referring to the arts and artists. Artists in general and in the specific (coughmecough) like to crane our necks around and look at what everyone else is doing. How are THEY doing? How come THEY get produced? How did THEY get that grant? Why are THEY doing so well? I am so better than any of THEM.
It’s something I acknowledge in myself and fight against. At one point I had to stop going to theatre all together because I was so consumed with what other people were doing, what other companies were producing, and why wasn’t it me? But looking around at others, instead of keeping focused on what I’m actually doing, actually working on, how I’m actually moving ahead, doesn’t help me as an artist. Or as a human being for that matter. I’m better than I was ten years ago, and hopefully in ten years I’ll be better still.
That’s why I try to always tell beginning writers (although it applies across the board) to find a voice, define what you want to say as a writer and then focus on implementing that in your work. That’s the prize as an artist: knowing what you want to put out there and then actually doing it. Focus in front of you and not all around. It’s becomes easier to let go of the neck craning when you know exactly what’s moving your forward. It becomes less and less about the others, and being better than the others, and just being yourself.