When it comes to art, this is the general attitude I’ve discovered: in order to become great, you have to get all your bad junk out of the way. If you want to draw well, you have to draw 1,000 bad drawings first. If you want to write well, you have to get a million worthless words behind you. But I think there is an inherent flaw in this way of thinking: it views your previous work as useless, a necessary evil, an unfortunate part of the process.
Toward that end, there is a quote by Dorothy Parker I’ve heard repeated by many an author,
“I hate writing, I love having written.”
I once shared this mindset, but I’ve changed.
Malcom Gladwell proposed the idea you must spend 10,000 hours practicing at a thing before you become a master of it. He also pointed out that people who are exceptional at their craft are the ones who fall in love with the practice of it.
I heard fantasy author Brandon Sanderson make a statement about writing which really changed my perspective on the matter. I don’t recall the exact quote, but essentially what he said was, each and every word you write is a necessary one in the process of improvement. Those words aren’t a waste, they’re the steps you have to take to reach the next level and without them, you’ll never get there.
I believe this is just as true of any and every creative practice, artistic or not. The difference, my fellow creatives, is in the attitude. If you want to be great at something, you have to love the practice of it, you have to enjoy the process. So I’ve been working to change my attitude about creativity and the hard work and effort required by it.
Fact is, I don't have to be creative, I get to be one. I don't have to write, I get to write. Creativity is a choice, one which takes determined effort, but it’s a good thing.
Now I’m thankful for the times I get to write, whether I feel like I’ve written well or not, because every words matters, each one accumulates toward something better.
What do you think? Do you view your own creative efforts this way? Do you see the importance in them or are they just something you have to do in order to achieve a desired result?