Artists are famous for their self-doubts (some more public, some less so) but it’s not an artist’s privilege – we all question whether we are good enough.
Today’s fashionable advice is the gut-reaction, “Of course you are!” It comes from good intentions but it’s like the mother looking at her son’s childish drawing: “This is amazing”.
It’s not always the case.
I do feel that worthlessness this morning. I want to take beautiful photos, write amazing posts, be of use to people showing how wonderful our world is. It feels like trying to fly without fully grown wings: I keep flapping, faster and faster, my feet leave the ground and then bam, I fall on my face.
You can tell me I’m good enough but in fact, I’m not. Not yet.
I need to practice.
Like that famous tale of Picasso who is asked by a random woman at a coffeehouse to draw her. He does so on the napkin and then asks for a million dollar. The woman is shocked:
“But it took you 30 seconds!”
And Picasso, the wise man says:
“No, ma’am, it took me 30 years to do this in 30 seconds.”
What would he be without those 30 years? A talented painter who paints only occasionally what he already knows because he’s “good enough”?
I need to reflect on what to practice.
I’m not big on football but even I’m aware that somehow, Brazil is doing great these past decades. Daniel Doyle also realised this and researched it for his book, The Talent Code. He describes a method he called “deep practice” where these kids slow down the motions and perform them step by step. Excessively. They try, they fail, they stop, think about what went wrong and do it again.
Correcting your own mistakes takes time. But many studies proved they result in successful, long-term learning. Or forget the studies, how do we learn to use our phone? From the manual? I don’t even know anyone who still reads the manual… No, we take it in our hands, and try things. If they work, happy days. If they don’t work, we try something else.
I need to keep practising. On and on and on.
“I usually do about two hours at the court and then an hour and a half or two at the gym. It’s intense!”
Who do you think said this? An office worker? A young athlete building herself up? It’s Serena Williams. She has won tons of championships. She is at a place that most players dream about. She knows her stuff. And what does she do? She keeps at it. Every single day!
Practice will make me good enough.
Practice can be boring. Disheartening. Sometimes it shows to me where I am NOT. I am not at the top of my game. I am not a pro. I do not know enough.
But practice will get me there.
Practice or doing
When does practice become doing? Can we always separate the two? At the end of the day when I practice, I do what makes my soul jump up and down with excitement: “That’s it girl, that’s what I’m talking about!”
Does it matter where I am on the road? Or where I’m going? I might never become a Stephen King or live like my inspiration, Mandy Lea. Nevertheless I am on the road that I’m building for myself with every photo I shoot, every word I write, every connection I make.
I am, indeed, good enough for that.