Amateurs Built the Ark; Professionals Built the Titanic

Don’t be afraid to get started

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You sit at the keyboard, pick up a paintbrush, or turn on your mic, and then you freeze. The icy grip around your heart is oppressive.

What if no one likes it?

Maybe if you were a trained professional. That’s it. Professionals go to school, right? Even creative ones. After all, Mozart perfected his craft at a university, didn’t he?

On the first day of your new classes, Art Appreciation because prereqs, the instructor makes fun of Noah and his building of the ark. Crude tools, zero expertise. No wonder he only carried animals; who would trust him to carry them through forty days of torrential flooding?

Now, the Titanic. That was a glorious example of Industrial Era engineering! The largest passenger ship ever built. Everyone clamored for a ticket for the maiden voyage. It only took four days for the buyer’s remorse to set in.

Finally starting that MFA

Filled with confidence at your choice to go back to school, you head to your next class, Creative Writing. Finally!

You sit down and see written on the board the day’s itinerary. As expected, the first twenty minutes will be devoted to introductions. Writing is saved for the end of the class, after a lecture on “What Is Story.”

Let it begin!

You enthusiastically introduce yourself and your hope to one day make it as a professional writer. Everyone and introduces themselves in almost the exact same way. Posers.

Then the instructor begins their introduction. After twenty minutes, two MFAs, and fifteen years of experience with a freshmen novel in the publishing cycle at a minor publishing house, and introductions have gone ten minutes longer than planned. Time to get to the lesson!

But wait…this instructor has so much training, so many degrees. Why are they teaching? Shouldn’t they be riding the wave of literary success, drinking caps with J.K. Rowling and discussing fountain pens with Neil Gaiman?

The work is all that matters

Walking out of that first Creative Writing class, you realize that you’ve learned nothing new. The “What Is Story” segment of the class was taken right out of Stephen King’s On Writing, which you have two printings of at home — one on standby to lend to a friend who asks you how to write a novel.

And you wasted so much time with introductions that you didn’t even get around to the writing.

You go home and wonder if that’s why most creatives never get anything done — they spend all their time talking about how great they and their work are without ever getting to the nitty-gritty of it.

When you get home and fall lazily onto your sofa, you realize that you learned more from Art Appreciation than you did from Creative Writing.

Professional training, while important in some areas, is not always necessary to make something that stands the test of time. It takes dedication to the work, a love of craftsmanship.

Realizing you have that already, you put on a pot of liquid motivation and sit at the keyboard.

For more creative inspiration, check out .

Business operator / martial arts fanatic / philosophy nerd /

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