“Done is better than great.”
~Dr. K. Sherrod
I’ve been running on this idea that “done is better than good” ever since reading Big Magic by Elizabeth Gilbert. (Please reference my Big Magic posts if you haven’t already. Her ideas liberate the creative mind.)
I’m upgrading “done is better than good” to “done is better than great”. Because, and let me be totally vulnerable with you, I have spent most of my life shooting for GRRREAT which has stopped me from completing many, many creative projects. If you set a goal of P.E.R.F.E.C.T. then you’re liable to 1) give up in a heap of tears and shame 2) flitter around in fits of avoidance and business (read: busy-ness) or 3) just keep working and working and working and working and working and never get jack s**t actually accomplished. Bottom line, you never hit the “finished” line.
Again, let’s remember: done is better than great. Dr. Sherrod might go a step further and say that “good enough” is indeed good enough. I personally love how saying “good enough” feels!
Please be aware, I’m not advocating for crappy work. There are few people out there who take the above concepts a bit far and produce work that deserves a few more minutes of attention. (Just a few, dude, pleeeeease just 10 more minutes of your time.) And let’s face it, there will be people who say the same thing about this post too. So be it. At least it will get published or to it’s finished line.
What’s the point of all this “good enough” talk?
My point is – many creative people need help finishing (or as we will learn very soon – publishing) the very good, very helpful things they are creating. There becomes a point where working on a project no longer serves the creator or the creation. It needs to be sent out into the world, perfect or not. Good enough is good enough.
Along Comes Jack Conte and a Vocabulary Problem
Every once in awhile I stumble on a YouTube video that fundamentally changes me. And then I write about it. You probably understand this by now.
Jack Conte changed my perspective on the process of creating in a mere 11 minutes and 13 seconds. Jack is seriously impressive. Someone once said that genius is the ability to notice patterns, so by that definition this guy is a genius. Want to know what he says? Go watch the video yourself. Jk. Although – down below – check it.
He says . . . “we have a vocabulary problem.”
Huh? What? A vocabulary problem????
Sure enough, he’s right. Jack goes on to explain,
“its silly to use the same vocabulary to describe the conclusion of a sports match and the trailing fade-out of the creative process. Publishing is not finishing, all the emotions are different. Publishing is something else.”
Publishing vs. Finishing
I won’t spell it all out for you because you deserve to watch Jack Conte’s video and bask in his ideas.
Bottom line: there is a huge difference between the experience of finishing something like a book or a sporting event or a test or the dishes. Those things have ending points beyond your control. The creative projects, though? Those have no actual end. You could literally go on forever tweaking your song, writing your manuscript, or touching up that painting. He illustrates this beautifully at the beginning of the video.
Jack says that publishing is the decision to stop. “Even when you don’t want to.” Which is really, really hard! There is always something to fix or make better. Attach a sense of desperately needing to make your creation great or perfect, and there’s a good chance that publishing might never happen. (Liz Gilbert addresses this in her own way, too. You might love her book, did I mention? #authorcrush)
How to Feel Good about Publishing
Jack says everything just right in the video. So, again you could just bypass the rest of this post and get to it.
What he emphasizes is the attitude and focus of publishing, which is totally different than finishing something. He basically says that publishing is the selfless act of contributing content the larger world. Its not about you, its about giving a gift to your fellow humans and sacrificing the need to make it about yourself and “perfection”.
[Woah. Ego, did you hear that? Did it hurt your feelings? Sorry/not sorry, ego.]
So, how do we feel good about something that’s hard to do and selfless and incredibly time consuming?
I contend that the act of publishing has inherent rewards if we are willing to surrender to something larger than ourselves (you know, helping other people). Helping someone feels better than almost anything else, ever. Along with that, there is something satisfying about letting a creation go – letting the kid grow up and be itself in the world. Those are NOT feelings the world will recognize for us. We have to notice them on the inside and celebrate them privately. You’re not gonna get a standing O for publishing most of the time. Its our job to recognize these subtle feelings of contentment inside ourselves and revel in them. Give yourself permission to enjoy sending your work out into the world.
Then do more work. A lot more work. You’ll understand why volume is important in a minute.
Attention Voice People
Remember: good enough is good enough, and publishing isn’t about you. Its hard and selfless, but somehow internally satisfying when you get there. Then, you have to do a lot of it in order to be seen or heard. That’s the mission if you choose to accept it.
I say this because deep down inside I want more people to publish what they know about voice. I want to hear the nerds in the house talk ad nausea um about the art and science of it. Consider this a Call To Action for #vocology #pedagogy #voicescience and #singing if you want.
Your voice is valuable. Publish a lot if it, y’all.
P.S. Jack Conte talks about Ella Fitzgerald and Irving Berlin in this video. As it turns out, they were ultra producers too. Thank you, Jack, for this incredible video. Thank you.