In any creative enterprise the worst mantra you can repeat to yourself is “don’t fuck it up.” Those words are, of course, rooted in fear and a corresponding lack of confidence on the part of the artist. I know. In the late ’70s I tried like a motherfucker be a diligent, exacting movie journalist while repeating these words over and over, fearful as I was of exposing myself as the marginally talented, somewhat under-educated guy I feared that I was deep down.
Anxiety, insecurity and fear are jail cells. “Don’t fuck it up” did nothing but freeze my instincts and make me afraid of my own voice, and of what the world might think.
What are helpful words to go by when you’re creating? “Let’s see what happens if I fuck with this or fiddle with it in some fuck-all way” has always worked for me. Once you stop giving a shit, everything starts to flow. You can’t uncork artistic discovery if you’re too worried about disappointing your bosses or fans or whomever. If you overdo the fuck-all you can always formalize and clean it up, but you can never fix work that’s been created with a sword over your head.