“I inoculated myself against my literary ambition,” said author JJ Lee during a keynote at a writer’s conference I attended recently where he told the story of how he spent years avoiding the memoir he was both afraid of and destined to write. When he finally lost his job and had nothing else to do but write, he realized his ambition and wrote the acclaimed memoir The Measure of a Man.
His statement stuck with me for days. It made me wonder – how do artists and writers inoculate themselves against their own ambition when their ambitious projects scare them?
The word “inoculate” is so apt. It’s a word associated with protection from a disease. Perhaps this is one vaccine that hurts more than it helps. What would allow your ambition to wake up and write the book, paint the series, stage the performance that you are destined to create? Maybe what others consider a disease is for you the call to fulfill your ambition.
I think many artists inoculate themselves to some extent – after all, even successful artists tell me how scary a new project can be. Who wouldn’t be tempted to put ambition to sleep? What action can you take today to wake up your ambition and move your next project forward? I’d like to hear about it.