With the passing away of hugely influential science-fiction writer Ray Bradbury I wanted to cobble together a quick post to discuss one of my favourite quotes of his:
“Don’t think. Thinking is the enemy of creativity. It’s self-conscious, and anything self-conscious is lousy. You can’t try to do things. You simply must do things.”
Though the first part of the quote is hugely important, I’d like to take a closer look at the latter part (which relates to the first part anyway).
I think there is merit in the idea of ‘trying something’ at the its basic level of meaning. Sure, it’s good to try new things, new hobbies, and immerse yourself in experiences and have a go at starting some things. That’s all good, and I encourage you to ‘try’ new things every day.
At a deeper level, however, when we’re actually talking about physically doing a particular action, in a certain moment, to ‘try’ is sabotage. Trying to paint, trying to learn, trying to please other people, trying to write. It’s all self sabotage. And it’s all to do with how you think.
Trying, in its true sense, means that what you are doing is dependent on outcome. You want something to turn out in a certain way. When you create a piece of art that you want to turn out in a certain way, perhaps to be like one of your favourite artists, you are not a participant in the action of painting, but an observer.
When you operate with this mindset when you undertake anything in life, you are hurting yourself, and possibly others too. This is where it ties in with the first half of Ray Bradbury’s quote, which is to say that you are self-conscious when you ‘try’. Trying is effectively the same as self-consciousness. When we are actually doing something in the moment, we are no longer self-conscious.
“When you operate under a mindset in which what you do is dependent on outcome, you are trying too hard.”
When you are focused on the outcome of something, you are in the mode of ‘trying’, and you are effectively telling yourself that what you are doing right now, is not good enough (because you haven’t reached that outcome yet). You are pre-programming yourself for failure.
This applies to so much in life. Even at the early stages of doing something new, like for example you started dancing classes. You are not trying to be a good dancer. You are being a beginner and you are accepting of the fact that you are learning.
I think the trouble that ‘trying’ creates, is an important reason behind why so many people fail to even start things, to make new things, to be truly creative and to be themselves. Because you are trying before you have even started. You know you will have to try, instead of actually do, and so either don’t start, or you restrict yourself in the doing.
So how do you get yourself to let go of trying and start doing? As Ray Bradbury puts it, you simply must do things.
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