Monday, July 16, 2012

A Word About Genius

Okay, so my husband and I are constantly discussing creative genius, from writing to art to photography. He's quite a good photographer, and he's been experimenting with his camera and photo-editing software lately.

And he found this article. Emailed it to me.

I was in the middle of a keyboarding class (which sounds about as fun as you think), and I read the article on my phone.

It was fantastic. It's nearly everything I believe about creative endeavors. You should really read the whole thing, but my favorite parts that the author in me nodded at are these:

"Great artists (or people of any talent) are made, not born. And increasingly, the science and the studies of great people, are proving it.

If you want to be a technically great photographer, then there is one thing and one thing only that will get you to that point.

Practice."

Now I think we can easily substitute "photographer" with "writer." So when you see that, just make the substitution--or to whatever else creatively you're pursuing.



"In real life, it turns out that 10 years is considered about the minimum amount of time to do something (with meaningful practice) before attaining a world class standard of technical proficiency."

I have been writing for 4 1/2 years. I'm not even halfway there yet! In fact, I think I might still be figuring out how to "meaningfully practice."



"People like to hold to the idea that they just need to find that one thing they are naturally good at and they will finally find success. The problem is that clearly that simply doesn’t happen. In every case of a technically brilliant person, success comes because of lots and lots of practice.

Michael Jordan was famed for his work ethic in practice.

Bill Gates had thousands of hours of coding experience before he founded Microsoft.

Mozart was driven by his parents to practice vociferously and although he was writing music at age 5, it was largely copies of existing works with his greatest original compositions coming after age 22 (and lots more practice)."

So today's word to achieving genius: Practice.

How's your practicing coming?

39 comments:

Natalie Aguirre said...

It's inspiring to know how much practice can help in making you a better writer.

I've learned so much over my years of practice and I think it's a lifelong experience. I'm trying to get into the practice mode more regularly these days.

Em-Musing said...

Practice is fun! Do it everyday. It's landing an agent that makes me feel like I'm forever a bridesmaid. And gotta love a guy that emails wisdom.

Carolee Dean said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Carolee Dean said...

Raw talent is like many other raw ingredients... cinnamon, pepper, sugar. It needs other stuff to go with it and a whole lot of hard work to turn it into something.

Kelly Hashway said...

So I guess it's good that I started writing in elementary school. I knew the master piece of a novel I wrote back then was worth it. ;) (Man, was it awful!)

Great article!

Bethany Myers said...

Thanks again, Elana, for another inspiring post. I always send my new followers your way.

Here is a quote from one of my fav movies, THE RED SHOES, I think it nicely sums up the proof behind how essential practice is.

"Don't forget, a great impression of simplicity can only be achieved by great agony of body and spirit."

Cheers!

Stina Lindenblatt said...

If you don't enjoy practicing, then you shouldn't be doing the activity. Hence why I don't play piano anymore. lol

Kenda Turner said...

A great reminder, thanks :-) Your thoughts reinforce a quote I posted recently: "The best reason to write regularly...to experiment with exercises...is they give the breath of inspiration more of a chance to slip into our lungs." --John Drury. Practice fosters inspiration! I'm all for that :-)

104551574847550817415 said...

The best part about practice is the more you do it the easier it is to continue regularly.

Alex J. Cavanaugh said...

I practiced almost 4000 words this weekend! Like you, I'm still a long way away from excellence though.

Jay C. Spencer said...

I practiced last night until past 2am. Woke up early this morning, read it, fired the coach! lol Great post. Thanks for sharing.

Time for more practice...

David P. King said...

With 15 years of practice, I must be getting close, right? Wonderful thoughts, Elana. Thank you! :)

Matthew MacNish said...

This reminds me of that thing about 10,000 hours. I forget who said it, and what the exact quote is.

Tasha Seegmiller said...

I really love this idea and there is so much truth to it. While I am in my infancy as a writer, I do have the ten years experience in other things and it really is just like a switch being flipped - it just works.

Kimberley Griffiths Little said...

Sing it, sister! I also think that writers (or artists) can speed up the 10 year process by writing a TON of work - which is probably what you did, Elana, and that's why you're seeing publishing success so quickly. I do believe you've mentioned in past posts that you've been writing thousands of pages each year. So practice IS where it's at in any field.

Jemi Fraser said...

Love this! Practice is vital to everything we do. When I teach phys ed & coach, I always talk about how the superstars and Olympic athletes practice continually. It works for everything!

Donna K. Weaver said...

Great post, Elana. Very encouraging!

I would add, however, a favorite saying by my social dance teacher in college: Practice doesn't make perfect, it makes permanent. She stressed over and over again the importance of doing it right. lol

ali cross said...

I *love* this. Yes yes and YES!

Patti said...

Such a great reminder. It's hard not to think that others are just naturally good at things.

ilima said...

Agreed! This is like Outliers...the 10,000 hours or ten years thing. I just have to keep motivated to keep practicing!

Krispy said...

Very inspiring! Looks like I need to practice some more!

Stephanie McGee said...

Practice? Um. I did write this morning. I always sort of go *eyebrow up* and toss a bucket of salt over my shoulder when I read numerical values assigned to nebulous concepts such as genius, beauty, etc.

Karen Harrington said...

Yes, Yes...practice disciplines the mind and spirit. Thanks for directing me to the article.

Linda Jackson said...

Elana, I agree with the article since my husband and daughter are great examples.

My husband, who couldn't write a lick when I met him, is now a great writer...through much practice (both reading and writing).

My daughter, who is a natural at basketball, gave up the sport because she didn't want to put in the hours of practice necessary to make her "great" at the sport.

Genius, it has been said, is 1% inspiration and 99% perspiration.

Btw, I just ordered both of your books for my daughter.

Claire Hennessy said...

Thank you for this. It's true that practice is so helpful. My family were just saying how much improved my writing is after all the practice I get from blogging in particular. It helps to know everyone needs to practice, and not just me!

Taffy said...

You're right! No writer sits down and produces a best seller novel. They have to learn and practice the art. Same with anything we do in life. I'm SUPER good at making mac now but I had to practice it first.
So if you're half way there, by the time you arrive, you'll be on the vest seller list at least three times! :)

Kathryn Purdie said...

What?! I have to work at this!!! *bangs head against desk* J/K, I actually found this blog post very inspiring--especially the part about Mozart, who is someone usually considered innately brilliant.

Martha Ramirez said...

What a great post! Def practicing;) Good reminder that putting in that time earns those stripes.

Leigh Covington said...

Agreed! And I totally needed this today! Thanks for the inspiration and the reminder :)

Christine Fonseca said...

From Malcolm Gladwell's Outliers - "To become a chess grandmaster also seems to take about ten years. (Only the legendary Bobby Fisher got to that elite level in less than that amount of time: it took him nine years.) And what’s ten years? Well, it’s roughly how long it takes to put in ten thousand hours of hard practice. Ten thousand hours is the magic number of greatness.” — p. 41

10,000 hours, baby... 10,000 hours!

Angela Brown said...

Hmmm...my practice is coming along okay, if you can consider stumbling, falling, face-planting, crawling, rising, staggering to another fall and getting back up again...practice. And I have YEARS more to go to try to be considered a genius. Well, I'll enjoy myself along the way :-)

RaShelle Workman said...

Elana - Love this. I started playing piano when I was five. I don't play seriously anymore, I dabble, but my mom used to always say "practice makes perfect." She's got that right.

Ted Cross said...

I can't agree with the part about genius being made not born. I've met too many of them who were absolutely born with the genius. Yes, they then had to cultivate it to reach world class levels (I'm talking chess geniuses here), but they had the 'something special' in very obvious quantities immediately upon coming to the game, when they had had no training at all. I met Tal Shaked when he was 8 and hadn't learned to play chess yet, but everyone in the room could tell he was going to be a grandmaster...and he later won the world junior championship and did become a grandmaster. True genius is something you are born with, but many of these geniuses don't even know it because they don't stumble across the particular talent that they possess, or they do but they don't work at it enough to achieve what they could.

Rebecca Taylor said...

I tell kids I work with this ALL THE TIME. Some great books that also talk about the power of practice...Outliers by Malcolm Gladwell and Talent Code, (can't think of his name off the top of my head).

Liesel K Hill said...

Great article, Elana! Couldn't agree more! Thanks for sharing it! :D

DL Hammons said...

It's hard to come to the realization that my first two books were "practice", but hey...it is what it is! :)

Jan Rider Newman said...

I think the most important word here is meaningful. There have been too many times when I failed to pay enough attention to it.

Stacy Henrie said...

LOVED this thought that practice is the key to true genius! Great post!

4utea said...

This is an excellent post. I am about to release my first novel, and have had difficulty debating a price. I feel like $0.99 is too cheap, but if I set it at $2.99, will people think, "Ha, debut novel for $2.99? Who does she think she is?"

I completely agree that books are art, and should be paid for. It's astounding how much work goes into the whole process.
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