Mediocrity has become somewhat of a curse word. I get why it has a bad rap- it’s the butt of many an Instagram quote, the fire added to many an insult, and seen as where one goes when one falls short of one’s goals. Okay, I’m done talking in “ones”. But, a book I’m currently reading by Pam Grout has changed my perspective on it.
Last year, when I was still struggling to come to terms with the idea of living my life as a creative, I ordered the book by Pam Grout entitled “Art & Soul Reloaded”. With it being a year-long challenge, I naturally put it down and decided “I’ll get to it later.” Well, that later hath arrived. It took me a long time to accept that I needed to actively allow my creative side to flourish, but I’m here. At last.
When I Feared It
Last week I wrote a script. Just a 5-page short with a beginning, middle and end. This was the first time I did this. My imagination went wild: seeing the shooting days, submitting it to festivals, critical acclaim and all. I had finally written a script and it had to be great, right? I told my writer-friend and asked if he’d give me feedback that night. I received the feedback, and… you guessed it: the script needed work.
I’d assumed there would be some technical advice, but what I received was that there was a deeper, more interesting story hidden in that script, and that should be focussed on instead. But all my ego heard was: throw this script out, it isn’t good. I was so embarrassed. I wrote a script! And it wasn’t Cannes-worthy! WHAT??? My scared ego wasn’t ready to deal with this. And so it did what it has been doing for almost a year now: abandoned the whole idea of writing at all. Because if I’m not perfect, I’m not going to do it at all.
The Teacher Appeared When the Student Was Ready…or whatever
I moved on, focused on other projects and work I’d had going on, and decided to get back into the book. I read ahead a bit (because I’m curious and impatient, okay!) to the 5th chapter, entitled “Dare to Be Mediocre”. The first sentence stood out to me:
“You have permission to write, draw and paint the worst crap in America.”
Woah. And, more memorably for me:
“When we allow ourselves to be beginners, to be mediocre, we plunge into new territory.”
I suddenly felt so liberated. Something that seemed so obvious to me finally hit me: it didn’t matter how that script was. What mattered was that I wrote it. I showed up for my own idea, my own goal of being a screenwriter. I’d proven to myself that:
- I could start and finish a script
- I could do so in a relatively short time
The Biggest Challenge
For me? Patience. The idea of becoming a “good writer” in the future, instead of right now. But the metaphor of a baby learning to walk really helped me: if a baby fell the first time they tried to walk, would I scorn them and assume they’re just incapable of walking? No, I’d congratulate them for taking a step, or half a step, because I know they’d get up and try again, and again, and again until they could be an annoying toddler running around breaking shit. Well, you know what I mean.
My ego also needed a talking to (and consistency does!). I wrote a mediocre script. So what? I WROTE A SCRIPT. I started. I did something. And now I’m free to write more silly, terrible and flawed scripts until I, like a baby, can finally run around breaking all the glass [ceilings] I want. 😉
What will you allow yourself to suck at this month? Tell me and let’s have a blast doing it 🎉