There is never any excuse for not doing your best work. Not one single stinking reason. You can bring up all the excuses you want, but at the end of the day, it is unacceptable to not bring your A game.
I overheard two people having an argument today, and it drove me home to write. One artist was calling another one out, which firstly, is totally awesome. I love this kind of stuff, because this is what people need. When someone does something that’s bullshit, we should be callin them out. Secondly, he was right on the money, which just made it all the sweeter. The specifics of what was said are not important, and that is not why we are here today. What is important, is the response.
At first, like most would do, the victim was defensive. He defended his work, but it was shaking footing, and as time passed (and as his verbal opponent remained adamant) the victim began to slip. Finally, he said the phrase that set my internal alarm on fire. He said, in short, that while what he created might not be his best work, some good ideas might come from it. Then, quite insightfully, his verbal opponent pointed out, “what if this is the idea they choose? Are you going to be happy about that?” Man, my respectomoter was in FULL OVERDRIVE at this point. If I wasn’t already a cold hearted bastard, I think i would have shed a tear.
This is a clear sign of one who understands an important fact of doing work that matters. Always, always, do your best work. It is always better to have one great idea instead of 2 mediocre ideas, or even 3 mediocre ideas. You can tell yourself any excuse you like, but when you put your work out there for others to see it represents you. You are saying, “this is valid”. You are saying, “I would play this, right here.” Is it better to have 2 good idea instead of 1 good idea? Obviously. Is it better to have 3 good ideas instead of 2 ideas? Unquestionably. Does this mean I create as much content as possible, regardless of quality? Never. Absolutely not.
I particularly hate arguments like, “well some idea might come from it”. As if that is some sort of shield that defends your work from being criticized. Look: ideas can come from anywhere, this is true. But you know what? I don’t start my search for awesome in a pile of crap. I start my search in a pile of win. Ideas can come from anyone, anything and anywhere, but they most often come from stuff that is awesome. Stuff that inspires. Stuff that makes me want to pump my fist in the air and say, “fuck yeah”. When I am pulling my “ideas from everywhere” I am, most times, pulling from AWESOME stuff. Awesome architectural design. Awesome horror films. Awesome video games.
I think a lot of people look at the great advice of people like John Lasseter who state that one great idea is never enough, and they misinterpret the meaning and intent of the advice. Yes, one great idea is NOT enough, but one great idea and two crap ideas is still just one great idea. Bottom line: when you put down that pencil, save that file, close that program, and send that e-mail, you are saying that what you have created is a shining example of your best work. If you do not look at what you have created and say, “yes, I want to play this.” Then, why are you even sharing it? Maybe I am alone, but I feel that you should never approach the work you do like it is some kind of contest. There is no prize for coming up with the most ideas. There is no award for being the most prolific thinker. There is only the end result. Make it count.