P019: Amateur Hour

Every week it’s a challenge to put out this newsletter. I mean, that’s kind of the point – to force myself to have a coherent thought longer than 140 characters – so it is a challenge that I relish, but some weeks are easier than others. For example, I just spent over an hour rummaging through all the email and tweets and RSS feeds from last week trying to find something topical that wasn’t about misogynistic terrorism (not linking to that, but if you don’t already understand #yesallwomen, give that a click), but didn’t find anything. Thankfully, just as I was starting to obsess over the music and catering for my personal pity party, one of my favorite quotes popped up and slapped me across the face:

“Inspiration is for amateurs — the rest of us just show up and get to work.”

Chuck Close dropped these fifteen perfect words in an interview that would become the centerpiece of the book Inside the Painter’s Studio. Time and time again these fifteen words have helped me to break through an endless morass of procrastination and distraction so I can actually do the damn thing. And not because I find the quote so inspirational, but rather that I am pathologically opposed to being perceived as amateurish.

Dude, you write a weekly newsletter for free!

I know, I know, but–

But dude, that’s, like, the dictionary definition of amateur.

Listen, tiny surfer-bro devil on my shoulder: I am speaking of amateur in the modern colloquial sense. Like the way you might describe an opponent in a freestyle rap battle: someone who is enthusiastic, but ignorant of their own limitations.

But dude, I thought I was supposed to dance like no one’s watching!

You’ve been to weddings. You’ve watched people bust a move with decidedly mixed results to the great amusement of many onlookers. People are watching despite your claims that you are just doing this for yourself. So while you are getting up to speed, whether it’s dancing or writing or whatever, be aware of your limitations and opportunities for improvement. You still have to do the work, but that focus and direction will help you get started.

Periodically yours,

Bob Sherron