Fast Company

The “It’s a Cop-Out” Cop-Out

In the creative world, there’s often a stigma against paying for help to build your dream. The art loses authenticity, some feel, or you’re simply less of an artist if you need to hire out to get a job done. Writers, for example, sometimes feel it’s “cheating” to hire a collaborator, or to pay a company to publish their book instead of struggling blindly through the murky channels of commercial publication. I can’t stress enough how counter-intuitive this is! In any creative endeavor, the odds are stacked against your success as it is and you have to be willing to constantly evolve and work hard to give your art every possible opportunity to find life in the world. And you can’t do it alone.

Because here’s the thing: You can’t be good at everything. If you’re a writer, you can’t be the one-person army who writes, edits, formats, designs, publishes, and promotes your book. And if you insist on being that person, you’d better be okay with mediocrity because that’s almost certainly all you’ll achieve.

Let’s look at it another way. You’re a general contractor, and you decide to build your own house. Great! But before you can start leading your construction team, you hire an architect to develop the blueprints; together, you fine-tune them. Next comes your role, where, over time, you’ll supervise and participate in building the house and managing the electricians, the builders, the heating and air conditioning experts, etc. When the house is completed you’ll probably hire an interior decorator, because as good as you are at home-building, you have no idea what the hell your wife means by “mid-century modern.” Finally, a year later, you’re moved in and happy. You did what you do well to create your dream home and everyone came together to see out your vision. Is that cheating? No…That’s smart.

The same wisdom should apply to your creative work. The most groundbreaking writers are often god-awful editors. Great producers may not be able to act to save their lives, while most singer-songwriters probably don’t know a damn thing about promotion. Your duty is to your art—what you have to offer the world. Leave the rest to the experts.

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