I've been critiquing lots of local releases as of late, and I'm noticing how much time is wasted chasing phantom progress. Some recent examples I've heard as of late:
"I'm not ready to start playing more shows. I don't have pro gear."
"Once we get signed, we'll start building a fan base."
"We just need more exposure!"
Sitting down and creating is hard. With each artistic effort we face nebulous goals, irregular progress, hazy feedback, no deadlines, mercurial collaborators and an endless list of setbacks. We may get better, we might not. One of the awful realities of creative work is that it's possible to spend six hours writing and still get no useable ideas. It's easy to feel like you're held hostage waiting for a slim visit from the muse.
The only way through this resistance is hard work.
However, it's much easier to say that something else is holding you back. (If only I had a $1200 guitar, I'd really be able to shred!)
By laying blame elsewhere, we rationalize the fact that we're not doing work by saying "There's no point in doing the work, because _____ is preventing me from succeeding." Believing that your success is subject solely to forces outside of your control is a lot less stressful than facing fear of uncertainty.
I'm not saying chance has no part, far from it. Luck very clearly factors into many, if not all, success stories. What I am saying, though, is while we have to deal with the hand we're dealt for variables such as luck and inborn talent, hard work is one of the variables related to success that we can actually influence. We have only so much mental energy we can expend per day before becoming less and less productive. As such, it's paramount that we focus our energy on what we can change instead of wasting precious effort complaining.
So what's your excuse?
Bonus points: Here's a great read on Internal vs. External Locus on Control i.e. whether you believe the outcome of events is more related to personal effort or external influence.