It turns out that Jerry Seinfeld has a 24 hour rule.
Whenever he writes any new material, his rule is not to show it to anyone for 24 hours.
The rationale is that writing is a brave, creative act. We humans need and deserve positive reinforcement every time we engage in that act of bravery.
Part of the way we preserve that is by shielding anything new we’ve created from others’ eyes. This allows us to experience the halo of “I did it” before experiencing the crush of “maybe it’s not any good.”
In fact, Jerry advises that when we do a brave act of creation, we should give ourselves a (metaphorical or actual) cookie.
Time and again, I find myself skipping this congratulatory step, the one in which I get to bask, for just a moment, in the knowledge that I was brave today, that I created something new.
Instead, I nearly always ship off that new thing to someone for their quick reaction and feedback (time’s a-wastin’). Or, just as bad, I finish my first draft, put down my pen, and notice how much time that took and all the other undone things on my to do list.
One solution that helps me is having time in my calendar for “brave work:” empty spaces that are only for creating new things. This way I know what that time is for, and I cannot beat myself up for other tasks that remain undone. This also helps me remember that brave acts of creation and efficient time management exist on different axes.
Finally, I remind myself of the advice of one of my favorite yoga teachers: we can leave our problems and our worries outside of the studio door, because we can be sure that they’ll be there waiting for us when our practice is done.
So, maybe it’s time to resolve that our best work should be free from prying, critical eyes for a day.
Without knowing there’s some psychic reward waiting for us on the other side, why will we ever dare to take the plunge?