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  • Writer's pictureJabe Stafford

Something From Nothing Doesn't Make You A Hack

Every story that exists wadn’t jack shit before.

That new mind-blowing movie? It arose from a whole lotta nada.

Your favorite novel? Less than zero at one point.

The oldest epic poem or philosophy text that exists? Built. Someone built it.

From nothing.

Ideas you have aren’t bullshit just because you thought them up at 3am after you tried and failed to sleep. They’re not somehow less for being thought up when you were sacrificing a number two to the god of porcelain. Pretty sure if you’re a creator, you’ve felt like a hack because your best pieces of work are all made up. Improvised. Surrounded by research or artistic techniques learned from other people or from books.

Guess what? That’s how art is made. Not by blatant plagiarism, but by learning a few techniques and filling in the rest with your creativity. Your story. Your vision.

Have faith. Because everything’s a turd when it first comes out.

You were a turd when you first came out. Able to produce nothing but wails and waste and wiggly wiggles.

Have faith that you’re not a hack. Because you love that turd you shat out enough to sculpt it into a masterpiece.

Even once you’ve completed the first, second, and third drafts, have faith you’re not a hack. The pieces aren’t assembled right until they’re assembled right. It’s okay to have a piece of writing that’s raw, ghetto, or stitched together like a cactus zombie from Venus. Have faith in your own ability to find the turds and sculpt them a little better.

And a little better.

And even better still.

You are not a hack, even if you have moments where you feel like it. Create anyway when this happens. ‘Cause a lot of turds are gonna get flushed.

You’re gonna throw away a lot of writing. Or paint. Or time.

And if you think the best don’t have crises of faith when they throw tons of writing away, you’re wrong. They just learn to recover faster and faster.

So yank yourself out of that slump, have some faith, and get creating.

You are not a hack. Knowing the exact time and place you came up with something does not make it cheap, fake, or hollow.

Making a hundred mistakes while building that masterwork only reduces the relevance of the art if you let it. If you refuse to learn. If you straight-up quit. If you assume you’re better than you are and stop creating for fear of your mistakes coming to light. Or because it’s hard.

That’s more of a hack thing to do than slowing down and learning is.

Making something from nothing does not make you a hack. Plaster on that self-confidence like cheesy Halloween make-up if you have to. But have faith. Stride forth. Write that cactus zombie from Venus book with all the rules, techniques, and storytelling ability you have.

They won’t all emerge into the world wriggling with badassness, but some will.

And that’s reason to keep putting in quarters and pressing Continue.

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