Thursday, 24 December 2009

Talent and effort

One of the problems with the 'talent' model, which I mentioned in my first post, is that it can make you want almost instant results. You may know, logically, that you have to practice something, or develop a skill, but when it actually comes to trying to do that thing, the critic in your mind jumps in more or less straight away, wanting to know something like why the thing you're tentatively trying to do isn't 'better'. If I'm supposed to have some kind of talent for this, your mind says to itself, why does this drawing look so bad, this note sound so out of tune? 'I can''t do cartoons', I hear myself say to myself, as if cartoonists come out of the womb readymade.

The biggest problem for adults and children is that everyone wants quick results. They don't realise that you have to work at it. They have to spend time at it and be patient. It's a commitment'. (McNiff, 98:18)

We know this is true if we look back at whatever we've developed capacities in professionally. Work conditions force us to keep at something because we have to make a living. The problem with activities which we officially label as 'creative' (though of course there is all sorts of creativity involved in our professional lives... ) is that they tend to be relegated to small corners of our lives; corners which get squeezed and invaded by things we regard as more important. I wonder now at the fact that I thought that writing an academic paper was more important than learning how to sit quietly in front of the old apple tree in my garden looking at the form of its branches against the winter sky.

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