Outcome vs. Process – A Writer’s Original Sin
Your back is against the wall, and that gun is pressed against your head. You have to make a choice – now!
Open Door #1 and you’ll enjoy the celebrity of success, the admiration of your peers, perhaps even wealth. The writing you did today – the outcome of your work – will definitely be recognized by others as “very good,” even though it practically killed you to get it there. Congratulations!
Open Door #2 and you’ll enjoy the satisfaction of doing, of drawing strength from purpose. The writing you did today – the outcome of your work – might only be seen as so-so in the eyes of others, but you still feel great about doing it, and you’re definitely coming back for more tomorrow. Congratulations!
Now let’s return to this choice when things are not going well, when the outcome of your work is – well, not good at all. No matter which door you choose today, the words you wrote will never be admired by others. It’s just one of those days – every writer has them – but that gun is pressed against your head again, and you have to choose – now!
Open Door #1 today and you’ll find deep disappointment, perhaps even self-loathing. After all, your words are no good, and your book will probably never be as good as Margaret Atwood’s, or John Grisham’s, or Milan Kundera’s. In fact, it’s obvious you aren’t a very good writer at all, which means you’re probably a rotten person too (heh, this isn’t me talking; outcome-focused writers are tough on themselves this way).
Now look what happens when you open Door #2. Surprise! Even when things are not going well, you’re able to draw strength from doing, from pursuing what you believe in. Your sense of worth does not depend on high-quality outcome; doing what you believe in is its own satisfaction.
A writer’s original sin – any creative person’s original sin – is placing outcome before process. Make that mistake and you set up a tortured path for yourself as a creative person.