Compare and despair!
The artist equivalent of FOMO
Last week my friend John Hendrickson sent me a NYTimes profile of the writer Lauren Groff with a note, “Thought you would dig this.” He knows me well: I did, in fact, dig it, because I dig almost all interviews with writers and artists. They are a great, sometimes guilty pleasure of mine, because the truth is I would happily spend many an afternoon reading about how other artists make their art instead of making my own art.
But procrastination is the most benign of the distracting dangers of reading how other artists work. We know that social media can cause FOMO (Fear Of Missing Out), but reading about how other people work can cause a variant of FOMO we’ll dub SHITT — SHould I Try That?
A silly example of SHITT: You’re having trouble with your writing and then you read about how So-and-So only writes longhand and all the sudden you think maybe you should start writing longhand. So you spend the whole day shopping for pens and paper, only to sit down the next morning and remember you hate your own handwriting.
Much like FOMO, how susceptible you are to SHITT depends on your mental state, how tender and vulnerable you are, and how well your own work is going.
Now let me tell you about the dumb SHITT that happened to me last week: I read this Lauren Groff profile and I temporarily lost my mind. I went a little crazy.
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