A short and sweet video pep talk for aspiring creative types, by Ira Glass:
A creative person is often a sensitive person — a person who is keenly aware of all of their senses, all of their feelings and thoughts. This is because creativity is linked to a refinement of the senses. Want to become more creative? Start observing more carefully what you see, hear, touch, smell, taste and think. It’s a process of improving discernment and mindfulness. Yet, this sensitivity comes with a risk: To be able to produce great work, a creative person must not be so sensitive that they can’t tolerate the pain of initially producing crappy work.
(Corollary for Managers of Creatives: To develop your team’s talent, you have to be patient and encourage them to persevere through disappointing output.)
Tolerance of Pain
The Kalenjin tribe of Kenya dominate the world in long distance running competition. According to some authors, this tribe has been environmentally, culturally and genetically optimized for long distance running… optimized not just in physical skill, but also in mindset. The tribe has longstanding rite of passage which select for pain tolerance. If you can’t tolerate extreme pain, you’re kicked out of the tribe.
To become a strong athlete, a big part of it is learning to overcome physical pain. If you can overcome that pain, you can stretch your goals and continually improve.
To become a talented creative, a big part of it is learning to overcome mental pain of disappointment in your own work. If you can overcome that pain, you can keep practicing and eventually produce something inspiring.
Ultimately, it’s about overcoming the false dichotomy of being a strong versus a sensitive person — be sensitive to the product and strong in the process.
“If you’re going through hell… keep going.”
– Winston Churchill
A couple of motivational montages to close out the week… month… fiscal year…
Two quotes, attributed to two writers, both convey the same general idea:
“The art of writing is the art of discovering what you believe.”
- Gustave Flaubert
“I write to discover what I know.”
- Flannery O’Connor
..and when I no longer know what to believe, that is when I find it hardest to write.
..and that is when I probably need to write most.