You always hear about how runners and other athletes get that “high” or “rush” from how all that activity gets the blood moving and endorphins pumping. They tell people who aren’t athletic that these feelings are totally worth it, that they’re what makes all the training and work worthwhile.
Creative types, those of us for whom work involves making passive aggressive comments on Twitter while we wait for inspiration to strike, don’t get those kinds of descriptive words and phrases. We’re told that what we’re doing is “wasting time” or “not going outside for three days” or “endlessly twirling that damn pencil like it’s going to write something itself.”
Those people have never experienced the kinds of emotions that are common to creatives.
For instance, there’s the euphoria of finishing an 800-word blog post. Of course that’s usually followed by terror and shame when, despite your three rounds of editing, you discover five glaring typos immediately upon publishing.
Or there’s the glowing sense of accomplishment when you think back on the progress you made on your book. Of course that’s usually followed by the feelings of being an untalented hack when you think of the seven other ways everything on the page could have been phrased.
OK, so maybe there’s a reason athletes get all the best sensations and feelings. Sure, there may be evaluations of a performance just passed that informs the planning for the next event.
At least they’re not forced to live with a physical representation of their lack of talent. They don’t have to attempt to build on a foundation that, when it’s revisited the following day, seems tenuous at best despite seeming solid when it was being poured.
And it’s not sitting out there in perpetuity, ready to mock you when you pull it back up a couple years later. A poor athletic performance can be explained away by a sore ankle, a twisted thumb, the sun in someone’s eyes or another perfectly valid reason that puts them at a disadvantage, able to offer a rationale for what happened and why they weren’t able to perform at their best.
When a writer, in particular, looks back at a piece that no longer holds up in their estimation (or someone else’s), the only possible explanation is that their talent simply didn’t show up that day. They just weren’t good.
There’s got to be a phrase equivalent to “runner’s high” for that, but it’s escaping me. It’s alright, though, I’m still pretty happy with this post and am sure I will be three days from now if I look back at it. That’s how this usually turns out.
In the meantime, creatives, let’s take back some of those good feelings. We own the words, not them, and can use them how we want. And we will, as soon as we figure out how and move past the crushing sense of failure coupled with the belief we’re just waiting for the other shoe to drop when someone realizes we’re a fraud.