I want to break off a piece of inspiration for you today, if I may. Moreover, I want to use one of my favorite games to do so. Such is the power of the geek to apply what is considered “mere entertainment” to life.
The game is Overwatch. It’s a silly, brightly-colored first-person team shooter. Now, what it is mechanically isn’t important here to my overall point, but it’s best to summarize it for the uninitiated.
And, yes, it inspires things like this. I regret nothing.
If there’s any one tagline or motto that can be ascribed to the world of Overwatch, it would be a line that was offered up in its announcement trailer. The bubbly character named Tracer looks down on a couple of impressionable boys after an awe-inspiring fight—in which they found themselves unwilling participants—and says, “The world could always use more heroes.”
It’s a linchpin phrase she delivers to introduce a game, sure. Great marketing. But it’s also a call to action, and one I’d like to co-opt for your work.
I’ve often stood in defense of escapism and fictional attachment because these geeky tales are really something more. They are our modern legends. These are our fables that we draw personal strength and understanding from. And if we’re mindful, and we let them, they give us a new lens through which we see our world.
I bring this up because maybe you—the one reading this, and thanks for stopping by—are sitting on an idea for something. Maybe there’s a creation rattling around your brain-case that you’re hesitating to commit to. Something daunting, something untried, something that’s just cool to think about. Yet, it’s going nowhere.
Pictured: How you feel about your work.
Perhaps you’re running down the usual suspects that stymie giving your work the green light. You know the ones I mean. “It’s been done before.” “No one will appreciate it.” “I don’t have the talent to pull this off.” Or, maybe the worst of all; “No one will care.”
I’ve been there. Hell, I’ve been there recently. We’re simpatico with those hang-ups, I assure you.
My advice here is pretty straightforward: do it anyway.
At first blush, that seems wildly unhelpful, doesn’t it? Didn’t Nike make bank on that throw-away sentimentality? Well, yeah. But I’m not selling you something, and you didn’t trundle through all this prose to buy anything. I just want you to really consider that phrase. “Do it anyway.”
Let me step back a moment and dispel yet another misconception that some folks hold about the creative process: the idea that putting stuff out there is the tail-end of the work, and the easiest part. It ain’t. Not by a country mile. Not by a Star Wars parsec. It can be the most emotionally brutal part of the entire enterprise.
Because the fact is, you can control everything BUT how the work will be received. After so many hours poured into something, it’s harrowing to relinquish that steering wheel. It takes a certain amount of fortitude to devote time to making something…
But it takes absolute courage to put it out there in the world.
The hallmark of courage is doing something in spite of your fear. It’s not a cavalier act. You are scared shitless, yet you find the strength to go for it regardless.
You do it anyway.
Pictured: Do I really have to spell it out?
Real heroes aren’t fearless. Ever. They are also often completely unnoticed. And you may not feel very heroic when you put something out there, but I ask you: how terrible do you feel when you decide to give in? How many regrets have you chalked up recently?
The negative aspects of creativity go hand in hand with the positive ones. Yes. Your work may go unnoticed. Yes, you may find yourself on the receiving end of a destructive critique maelstrom. Yes, you may find that your work isn’t going to find that your ambition outstrips your current skillset. You may find that the piece of you that you lovingly wrapped in that creative packaging just isn’t appreciated.
Do it anyway. Be a hero, if only to yourself. Because one day, that thing you made just might inspire another, lift up a fellow geek, or rise up to be one of those collected legends that we all draw strength from.
Because in times like these, full of real upheaval and tragedy and a torrent of bad news strong enough to knock a grown man down, the world could always use more heroes.
Until next time, Horns Up.
“When the Man Comes Around” book one of the Nine Shot Sonata Series – available now!