Wednesday, May 18, 2011

It's Okay to Suck. (Seriously.)

No matter how you say it, nobody wants to suck. At anything. I'm one of those people. Blame my perfectionism, my INFJ personality, whatever. Long story short, that trait is very deeply ingrained within my personality. It's there for the long haul, baby.

And you know what?

It's something I/you/we need to get over. That's right, I said it. You've got to be willing to suck at some things before you can ever get better.

Several examples come to mind, ranging from musical instruments to sports. Regardless of the scenario, however, the idea holds true. Ask yourself this question: 'What things am I naturally good at?' Got a scroll-like list yet?

Then try this one on for size: 'What are the things that I really love doing?'

Odds are, between the two questions, you'll have some overlap. But there may be a few things you love and maybe aren't so naturally good at. (This is where the musical instruments analogy comes in.) Some people are musically inclined. My family (largely excluding me) is one such group--everyone plays at least one instrument, usually two. My mom is just amazing--she plays piano, guitar, flute, sings....

But she didn't get to be seventeen kinds of awesome overnight. (I think it took two nights.)

*...maybe she's not the best example....*

A long, long time ago, I asked my mater familia to teach me her wicked-awesome-guitar/singing-jedi-ways. She obliged, began speaking in reverse syntax like Yoda and calling me 'grasshoppa'.

Wonder of all wonders (not), I sucked. Something about strumming and singing at the same time blew my mind to the point of short circuiting. I was pissed. First (bratty) reaction went something like this: Whatthehellwhyisn'tthisworkingi'msupposedtobeawesomeliketherestofmyfamilyamIadoptedthissucksIquit.

Yoda...erm, my madre, just laughed and handed me back my guitar pick after the ninth time I'd launched it airborne. And you know what she said?

Suck you do. Hopeless you are not.

And that gets us to the point of this whole rambling blog post: It's okay to suck. Seriously. Most people throw in the towel in the early stages of learning to do anything new because they can't handle not being awesometastic immediately.

To get to Jedi Master levels, you've got to be willing to suck first. To not be naturally awesome or a virtuoso. And that fact, well, sucks. But those people who do stick it out, deal with the ridicule, ignore the family members who point and giggle, eventually stop sucking. Maybe even get to the point where others consider them to be impressive. Maybe even Yoda-like.

The same theory can be applied to many different fields. Because it's on this blog, you can bet I'm going to relate it to writing. Many moons ago, once I decided I was going to get serious about writing, I found this awesome writing forum. I learned a ton immediately--the amount of Jedi Master Juice there is fantastic. I prematurely posted a snippet of a WIP up on the Share Your Work section, and promptly got told that it needed work. It wasn't fun, but it was necessary. I was told I sucked, but I wasn't hopeless. There might have even been some potential hidden in there.

Flashback to the mom and guitar session.

Through some self-motivation, I'm still writing. I can now say with complete honesty that I've gotten better. I understand the craft more now. Nowhere near an expert, but I'm learning more and more everyday just because I want to.

Most people think that writing is simple, that anyone can do it. They're only partly right.

All it takes is dedication and patience.

And the willingness to suck.


  1. I think the OMG! I suck at this I'm never doing it again attitude is more prevalent now with the instant gratification society we live in, (at least in the US.) I know cause I struggle with it too. Especially with writing. I think I have a slight allergy to hard work as well so that doesn't help.

    We just keep on keeping on and support each other in all our endeavors whether it is writing or something else.

  2. I think you're really on to something--here in the U.S, we want it and we want it NAAAAOOOOHH. Our attitude is definitely not conducive to learning complex skills, trades, or anything really. Especially not something as intricate as writing.

    I'm at the point where I'm confident in some aspects of my writing (characterization, theme), but not so much in others (plotting). But I WANT to write. I WANT to be published, and therefore I HAVE to stick my neck out there for beta readers...and probably be told I suck.

    I have to quit making excuses and finish the damn mss. It's just the way it goes. (Not always fun, but hey.)

    It'll be worth it in the end.

    And support? Well, that makes the long journey a little less tedious and stressful! Thanks for stopping by, lyra, and write on :)