You already have all the tools for creative work

“The tone is in the fingers.” - Jason Fried, Founder of 37signals and author of Rework.

Too often impostor syndrome creeps up on us and begins a conversation that can prevent us from doing our best work.

We’re reminded of our past failures or short-comings, the negative or unfair criticisms we’ve encountered along our way, how talented and more fortunate peers are performing around us. In these instances we often find ourselves paralyzed and unable to do creative work. What’s the point, anyway?

Sometimes, though, we fight the feeling of being an imposter. We do this in numerous ways: by drudging through the work, or by seeking motivation from others. Commonly we’ll use the feeling of being an imposter to seek out newer and shinier tools. Tools, we think, that will allow us to do better work merely because they’re new and different. If the tool we’re using is the problem, we tell ourselves, then that means I’m not a failure!

All these things are undoubtedly helpful in their own ways, but more often than not they become traps. They pull is in with false promises of relieving our symptoms of feeling like imposters, of feeling not good enough, only to have us realize we’ve wasted time researching tools or inspiration when we could have been working, learning, and growing our abilities. This is particularly true in our search for the best or shiniest tool for the job. Even if we have perfectly fine tools sitting in front of us, we’ll tell ourselves we can’t do our best work until we have what “the pros” use.

We can’t do remarkable design unless we have expensive software (never mind the free stuff). We can’t write unless we use the same tool our favorite authors use (again, who cares that it’s almost identical to the free stuff). We can’t paint unless we have the most expensive brushes and high quality canvases (despite the fact most famous artists start with cheap brushes and tissue paper). We can’t tell our story unless we pay for expensive blogging software (because tumblr just won’t do).

Of course, sooner or later, you’ll be back to square one. The tools we use matter, but only if we have figured out how to use the most basic among them.

Gordon Ramsay, the multi-Michelin starred, internationally recognized chef and TV personality shares in his book:

“It is better to be an under-equipped doer, than an over-equipped poser.”

The difference between the posers, the real imposters, and everyone else is simple: they don’t do the work.

To be an imposter is simply to not do the work, to not grow, to pretend as though you have all the answers and the only thing holding you back is a different tool, a more expensive brush set, a better pen.

To be a true creative means you’re constantly pushing to do the work itself, regardless of the tools you’re using. If you’re a creative, you’ll find a way to make the work with whatever have in front of you anyway, right? Isn’t that the definition of creativity?

And when you do start to feel like an imposter, you won’t wast eyour time seeking bandaid solutions. Instead, remind yourself that maybe you feel like an imposter because you’re growing:

“We adjust our expectations of ourselves in the same manner we adjust our capabilities as we learn and grow. So our notion of what it means to be someone who is creative evolves as we progressively do more and more creative work. As we grow our creative “bar” gets set higher and higher, so not only do we fail to notice our new nature of thought and capabilities, but we feel as though we’re continuously missing the mark. We compare ourselves to those we look up to, those we work alongside, and their creativity feels boundless. But what we fail to see is our own growth, and how outer comparisons are not precise or entirely accurate.”

Use what you have to do what you can, start now.