Accept; Improve.

“Improvement at anything is based on thousands of tiny failures, and the magnitude of your success is based on how many times you’ve failed at something.”

Mark Manson

At some point on your journey in creativity you realize something:

‘My previous work sucks.’

As self-deprecating as that sounds, the ability to be aware of where you’ve come, where you currently are and where you need some improvement is a good thing.

I wonder if we also remember ourselves being better than we actually were?

Or perhaps as we hone and improve our skills, we gain an ‘eye for it’, a greater level of clarity that we had previously?

I think the first time I noticed this was through Frogger. Yes, the lovable Frogger game where you control a frog to hop across the screen and save his friends while avoiding traffic and crocodiles. Growing up, my cousin and I would have a blast playing Frogger for hours (among many other games). I remember us being good at it. But when I revisited it one day I realized we had never made it past the first area. We spend hours thinking we were good, but in reality, we were barely past level 1.

A similar aha moment happened when I was a senior in high school (give or take) and I was flipping through some of the old sketches I had drawn in middle school. I had pages of sketches of various characters from games and tv shows, as well as random imaginative and sometimes goofy things. They all were kind of… bad. I remember people complimenting me on them at the time. But as I leafed through the pages, I saw flaws and tiny mistakes I was unaware of when I drew them.

In a way, as we are trying something new or learning our craft, it’s a good thing we can’t see with a ‘mastery’s eye’, so to speak. It’s that cocky, beginner’s can-do attitude that pushes us forward, but it’s a thin tight-rope. It’s almost better we don’t know how bad we really are at design or programming or playing guitar in the beginning, otherwise, we’d likely be tempted to quit with barely trying. But as we mature in our craft, we get a little better than we were. And as each day passes, we start to open our eyes to new insights and capabilities we didn’t know previously.

Sucking is part of the creative process. Everyone sucks at the beginning. The only people who don’t are the ones who misremember themselves being better than they were.

One way we can speed up the process is to seek. out honest feedback and criticism.

Genuine feedback and criticism are harsh friends, but make us better at what we do. I say ‘genuine’ feedback because it needs to come from someone you respect, someone who is your peer or someone who has experience in the creative pursuit. 

Taking advice from negative comments online is rarely a good idea.

Criticism stings in the short run, but it enables you to get better faster in the long run because it allows you to see your blind spots and what needs Improvement.

STAY BOLD, Keep Pursuing,
— Josh Waggoner | Daily Blog #769

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