What Motivates Us To Begin?

“Work finally begins when the fear of doing nothing exceeds the fear of doing it badly.” Alain de Botton

I found this quote yesterday in an Atlantic article. Apparently Monsieur de Botton knows a thing or two about writing, procrastination, and the psychology of genius vs. work and failure as key components of creativity.

He nailed it.

The blank page or the blank screen glaring back at you can squash the creative process. At least it can if the creative process is about greatness and perfection. But AdB’s quotable idea suggests that laying down some crappy text is part of the process.

It’s a freeing concept.

I’ve been applying the same idea as I watch the Olympic competitions. Are the athletes born with a tremendous amount of athletic prowess? Or is more of their success attributable to practice, tenacity, and determination.

At what point does the mental component outweigh the natural grace and strength of an athlete? How much is talent, how much is sheer doggedness?

I suspect both are at play.

I think I prefer to focus on the hard work aspect of creativity. It seems more equal-opportunity. It feels more real-life applicable. It makes the creation of something seem more accessible.

It is essentially the point of a blog, right? Daily, imperfect blathering about whatever—it’s the antithesis of polished perfection. Blog = writer’s notebook or artist’s sketchbook. Unless you’re a big-time blogger with plenty of minions to make the daily “whatever” appear amazing.

I do think it’s kind of funny (and maybe kind of sad) that all work is the result of fear. At least according to AdB. Fear, not passion or love. Maybe it’s the fear of not saying whatever burns inside you to be said.

I suppose I’m down with that.

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