Yesterday was the birthday of F. Scott Fitzgerald, author of The Great Gatsby and many other works.
In one of his last interviews before he died at the age of 44, Fitzgerald shared: “A writer like me must have an utter confidence, an utter faith in his star. It’s an almost mystical feeling, a feeling of nothing-can-happen-to-me, nothing-can-harm-me, nothing-can-touch-me. Thomas Wolfe has it. Ernest Hemingway has it. I once had it. But through a series of blows, many of them my own fault, something happened to that sense of immunity and I lost my grip.”
What Fitzgerald said reminds me of what Eric Maisel wrote in Making Your Creative Mark: “Failure to manifest confidence in any stage [of the creative process] will stall the process.”
Making something original by definition means there isn’t a set of instructions. You have to make all of the decisions (or else your client does), and it’s natural to doubt that you chose the best word here, or the ideal color there.
There’s a difference between thinking flexibly and doubting. It’s the difference between being willing to be wrong, and being afraid of being wrong. It’s obvious that doubt is inefficient; it stops us from shipping on time. But the lesson that Fitzgerald left us is that chronic doubt can be crippling, and ultimately paralyzing. We stop shipping altogether.
Maybe the hard part of making things has more to do with being confident, and less about coming up with an idea or developing the skills to execute it.
How might that sentence sound without the word “maybe”?
The hard part of creative work isn’t ideation or technical skill; it’s confidence.