Identifying with Work

The strangest thing happens when I identify with my work: I can’t do it.  As soon as I start thinking, “I am a writer,” I lose the power to write.

If that’s who I am, then nothing’s ever good enough.  “That’s not me.  I can do better than that.”  I can’t stop revising.  I can’t even get past the title.

I’m not a writer.  I just write.  The power to write comes from writing; as long as I keep the words flowing onto the page, I know it’s going to be OK.

As soon as we identify with our work we lose sight of the work, and start thinking of how we’re perceived by our audience.  Not who our audience is, but who we are in the eyes of our audience.  We may need to know who our audience is if we want them to understand our work, but we can’t think about whom we are as perceived by them.

We’ll never get naked up there on the stage with all the eyes of the world watching us.  But if that’s where our work takes us, then that’s where we need to go.

For our work to be genuine we need to be vulnerable.

That’s what the sports world means when they talk about having amnesia.  The ones that have it are focused on the next pitch, the next pass, the next catch; they are focused on the work, and not on themselves in the eyes of the arena.

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