You suck. It’s true. No need to be embarrassed.
I suck, too; quite regularly, in fact. Possibly unlike you, however, I revel in that fact.
In almost any facet of life, when we are called upon to do something, many of us have concerns that we might not be up to the task, that we suck.
Depending on the task, the individual, the timing and innumerable other factors, this fear may give only the slightest pause or it may result in complete catatonia, leaving us bereft of the will to do anything let alone the requested task.
And I think this fear of suckage—yep, just made that word up—is perhaps the greatest in creatives as it is in creativity that we face our harshest critic: ourselves.
I have myself, and seen others, stare at a blank page, completely immobilized, incapable of the first squiggle that would start the creative process.
At best, we’re trying to consider every starting concept in our heads, lest our suckage be recorded for posterity and later ridicule. But just as often, it is blank-screen paralysis, our thoughts as immobile as our body.
I’m here to tell you that they are just negative manifestations of a positive experience.
In many ways, sucking is not only normal, it is also wonderful.
When I teach screenwriting, I start every lecture with the same question:
“Who sucked this week?”
And at least until the students have adjusted to the question, mine is the first hand that goes up.
You cannot help but suck at something until you don’t, and the timeline of skill is different for every individual and every task.
But actually sucking—as opposed to the fear of sucking—means you are trying. You are making an effort to push through your personal suckage, and that is amazing and wonderful.
Even the fear of suckage is a good sign, if not a good feeling, because it is an indication of how important the assignment is to you. If it wasn’t important to you, you wouldn’t care if you sucked.
So suck. Jump in with both feet, ignoring as best you can that little voice that warns you of doom should you suck.
Take the next step, and then the one after that
For one thing, even once you have developed great skill in a field or activity, you will still have occasion to suck.
With apologies to the magnificent screenwriter Terry Rossio, for every Shrek and Pirates of the Caribbean, there is the odd Lone Ranger.
For every record-breaking season, Wayne Gretzky missed an open net on occasion.
No professional photographer keeps every shot she takes, nor painter every painting, nor songwriter every lyric or note.
You are going to suck.
The silver lining, however, is that the more you suck now, the less likely you are to suck later.
God knows I still do. And I’m very happy about that.
To learn more about effective storytelling and maybe gain insights from my years of suckage, visit:
So, What’s Your Story (web site)
So, What’s Your Story (Facebook)