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Article everything_creative_sucks

Published on February 16th, 2014 | by Dan Walsh


Everything Creative Must Suck…

…at first.

If something – anything – is creative, it must suck at first. It must suck badly. In fact, the worse it sucks initially, the better the final product. By nature, creativity must contain an element of newness, and anything sufficiently new will be without instructions. There will be zero how-to books on the subject or technique. No map. No guidance. Sucking is the process of discovery. The failed attempts become the content for those missing how-to books.

I knew a kid named Winston. He was in my Boy Scout troop. Every holiday the scouts would sell wreathes. Most of us would just sell to our relatives or immediate neighbors. We were all afraid to suck and knew these people would buy from us. Winston wasn’t afraid to suck. He wasn’t very popular, so he was already comfortable with rejection. He sold door-to-door to the whole town. Not everyone bought from him, but enough did. But when the troop leaders announced the scout with the most sales, it was Winston who won the trophy. He won because he wasn’t afraid to suck.

I’m not a great photographer. I think I have an ok eye for composition, but that’s where my skill ends. “The secret to being a great photographer is to take a thousand photos and only show the single best one.” I don’t know where I read that. Maybe I was lucky and someone excellent told me that in person. I don’t know, but it’s true. Suck a lot and something great will emerge. Just show off the best stuff.

I’m not a great writer. I feel like I babble about nonsense. But if I suck enough, every now and then I end up with something really good. Something I’m proud of. Something other people like too.

I was often afraid to suck. I still am. But now I know that sucking is part of the process. In fact, if I suck a lot, that should mean I’m trailblazing. If it was easier then someone must have already explored the territory. Great suckage means I’m on the trail of something really creative.



Image: СмdяСояd

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2 Responses to Everything Creative Must Suck…

  1. Lauren says:

    I love this article. As a fellow writer, I also struggle with this. The initial phase of my creativity almost always sucks. What’s hardest is to keep writing even when I’m not producing anything I like. I want the beautiful, non-sucky product without all the failure and frustration to get there. I would be curious to read more on how you get yourself to keep creating, whether it’s in your writing or in your photography, even when you feel like what your making is missing the mark.

  2. Patrice says:

    Fear of sucking kept me from following my heart for a long time. Thanks for putting it out there, that it’s okay to suck sometimes. This applies to so many different arenas. I can’t even count the amount of times I’ve heard musicians or actors say how much they hate a certain song they released, or movie they acted in. As a creative, it’s so nice to know that we’re all in the same boat together, sucking it up.

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