I’ve been creatively dry, fenced in this desert of immature and unripened songs. It’s a field of frustration. I know why I’m here…I just needed someone else to tell me plainly. I picked up The War of Art again today. Steven Pressfield didn’t mince words:
The Definition of Hack
I learned this from Robert McKee. A hack, he says, is a writer who second-guesses his audience. When the hack sits down to work, he doesn’t ask himself what’s in his own heart. He asks what the market is looking for.
The hack condescends to his audience. He thinks he’s superior to them. The truth is, he’s scared to death of them or, more accurately, scared of being authentic in front of them, scared of writing what he really feels or believes, what he himself thinks is interesting. He’s afraid it won’t sell. So he tries to anticipate what the market (or telling word) wants, then gives it to them.
In other words, the hack writes hierarchically. He writes what he imagines will play well in the eyes of others. He does not ask himself, what do I myself want to write?What do I think is important? Instead he asks, What’s hot, what can I make a deal for?
The hack is the politician who consults the polls before he takes a position. He’s a demagogue. He panders.
It can pay off, being a hack. Given the depraved state of American culture, a slick dude can make millions being a hack. But even if you succeed, you lose, because you’ve sold out your Muse, and your Muse is you, the best part of yourself, where your finest and only true work comes from.
That is it.
That’s exactly it.
I spent too long writing what I thought people wanted to hear that I forgot what it was to just write from my heart. Well, that has to change. And it has to change right now.
If people pleasing gets us anywhere, it’s to a place we will eventually hate. And what fun is that?