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The Imposter Syndrome, In Spades - Elf M. Sternberg
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The Imposter Syndrome, In Spades
Andrew Chen discusses why you'll never think what you produce is good enough:
Many of us working to make our products great will never be satisfied. A great man once said, your product is shit – and maybe you will always think it is. Yet at the same time, it is our creative struggle with what we do that ultimately makes our creations better and better. And one day, even if you still think your product stinks, you’ll watch a customer use it and become delighted.
And he says the reason why is that you, yourself, know the compromises that went into the product, know the flaws the product has, and you hate yourself for every let-down, every flaw, every moment when you decided to take a shortcut and avoid the real task of producing truly great work. I'm reminded of Michael Beruit's article Howard Roark Lives, about how we creatives enter the field hoping to find not so much clients as patrons-- people who trust us to do glorious work of integrity, rather than the work the clients just want done.

Every time I look at a program or a drawing, and my friends all say, "Damn, I wish I could do that," or "Oh, you really can draw," I look at it and say, "No, I fucked up here, there's too many untestable code paths," or "No, I really skipped the lessons on perspective here, it's just a mess, look at how his head is misshaped."

It's even true of writing. I broke down into tears yesterday, only briefly and in a manly way, because chapter 10 of the current novel was so pretty and romantic and successful in dialouge, beat, and narrative-- only to have chapter 9 be so much junk filling in the space between the two chapters. There are necessary complications that need to be revealed, and chapter 9 was supposed to do them, but I'm so rusty at writing right now I loathe the work I'm doing.

Still, I do it anyway.

I always hate my own work, because I know I can do better. It doesn't matter how much I know-- I learn too much to absorb learning the deeper lessons. I have no idea how to create "read-only" fields in Javascript, and my compositional skills are terrible, but only because I haven't practiced them enough. Yet I love creating, and I love making more.

I guess I'm just insane that way.

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