Iris was King Shrewd’s herald, and she blew the fanfare trumpet.
She wouldn’t settle for any random toot-toot, though. No, Iris’s fanfares stopped all conversation every time the king entered. (As a good fanfare should, of course.)
Iris joyfully created the king’s theme and delivered it with repeated and varied motifs. (Many many years later, a composer named Aaron Copland heard some of them and wrote Fanfare for the Common Man. It would have given the king hiccups of rage if he’d known his majestic greeting had been transposed into an ode to ordinary citizens, but luckily the king had died many years earlier from eating a renegade pear.)
For many years, Iris blasted her amazing fanfares with all of her energy and breath and innovation.
But then Iris had the flu. And she had a raging row with her boyfriend about money. Iris felt run-down, put-upon and wrung-out. Even picking up the fanfare trumpet felt like too much work. And as for blowing back the coronets with a joyous blast? Forget it.
Exhausted and anxious, Iris paced in the quiet spot behind the tapestries. (The court’s backstage area.) She wanted to do a magnificent job. She wanted to produce her usual creative and innovative amazingness. Mentally, she rehearsed… and all she could think of was a big fat raspberry. She was going to let the court down. She was going to let her king down. She was…
“What’s the matter, Iris?” said King Shrewd, with a kindly look on his face.
“Oh, your Majesty,” she wailed, “I don’t think I can produce a wonderful fanfare for you today. I’ve been trying to create something great, and it’s not working.”
“I see. Well, can you do a decent fanfare? Something from the standard book?”
“I… suppose so. But it won’t be as good as my usual work.”
“Well, we can’t be amazing every day. Remember when I invaded Ruritania? That was embarassing.”
Iris smiled weakly. “I’ll do my best, sire.”
Accordingly, Iris walked out and blew Standard Fanfare #7.
The next day, she blew Standard Fanfare #15, with a small elaboration of the final flourish.
The day after, she delivered a muted but engaging version of her standard theme.
And after that, Iris was back to her normal improvisational best. (At least until she sprained her ankle and her mum found a suspicious lump.)
The moral of the story
Generally, you know you’re doing your best work when it just flows out of you with no feeling of effort. Most times it will be easy-peasy to get that work done.
But most times is not every single day.
When you do machine work – putting blue widgets into boxes or processing insurance forms – you can get through on those days when you really aren’t feeling it. You won’t be as efficient, but Tab A will get into Slot B nonetheless.
When you do creative work, the occasional off day (or off week) is hella alarming. It’s hard to do creative work with no feeling of flow, and hard to apply ourselves to creating work we know won’t be our best. It’s so very tempting to say, “Ah, fuck it. It won’t be any good anyway, why should I even bother? I should just eat this peach ice-cream instead, recuperate, and come back at it tomorrow.”
It’s a dilemma. Do you show up uninspired and do your best today, accepting that the end result might be workmanlike and maybe unworthy… or do you do no work at all, letting your mojo return naturally but getting nothing done (and maybe letting The Resistance in through the back door)?
In regards to creative work around marketing, this is even more tricksy. There is nothing less energising and exciting than someone saying, “Hurrah. I have a thing for sale. You should check it out. It’s amazing.” It’s very tempting to pack it all in and leave the marketing for another day.
But… to be effective, marketing has to keep showing up. If you save it only for the days when you’re feeling tippy-top, then it won’t get done often. So it won’t be effective. And you’ll have yet another reason to say, “Eh, marketing sucks. I won’t bother with it.”
So there’s a strong reason to answer your emails, promote your work, talk in the forum, put up new flyers, chat on Twitter, write a newsletter, post an update… whether or not the mojo is flowing as you’d want it to.
Only you can choose.
What are your thoughts? Tell me in the comments!
If you want a weekly reminder of your amazingness, with encouragement to keep marketing even on the crappy days, then sign up for Mo’Cash, Mo’Joy today.