How many times have you been in your studio, at your desk or simply in your zone when you suddenly realize that hours (maybe days) have passed? Yep, the sun was up when you started and now its been replaced by its sister moon.
I often find myself losing track of time as I work and create. I can’t tell you how many countless hours were whisked away at the end of a pencil, brush, guitar pick or microphone. Sometimes the page or screen (or apparently my brain) would still be blank, leaving me to wonder just exactly where all that time went and how I spent it. The process of productive creativity (or lack thereof) however, is a topic for another time. What I’m writing about now is the expense of time at the feet of creating your life’s work (or hobby as the case may be).
Most artistic disciplines take an extraordinary amount of time to become masterful or even facile at. This time requirement stretches over into other realms based on the manner in which we learn as I can attest to from my own martial arts training. One of my favorite authors, Malcolm Gladwell (check out his publications on his website www.gladwell.com, Amazon.com or your local bookstore) wrote in his book “Outliers” that it takes approximately ten thousand hours of practice to achieve (or in my opinion be eligible to achieve) mastery or success within any particular task or field. Certainly a broad statement that isn’t a concrete rule, but absolutely one that holds weight.
To gain aptitude in anything, we have to practice. There are very few of us, if any who can consistently do any relatively complex task or series of tasks nearing perfection without some type of study, practice and commitment. Even natural talents can benefit and grow from practice, study and coaching.
In the field of the creative arts, the playing field is somewhat tempered by the interplay of personal opinion and relative judgment when deciding who is truly a master versus those who merely dabble or get lucky. It takes us back to the popular “Musician X is awesome and Musician Y sucks!” or any similar argument that you can see mindlessly spat out on the internet en masse. It is a matter of opinion, isn’t it? Unless we can measure some definitive, tangible and perfectly objective element that yields quantitative data its as useful as comparing the volume of the voice in your head to the volume of someone else’s head voice.
In any event, before I get too far off from my initial brain drizzle let me get back to what I’m driving at. In some manner, you are going to spend a considerable amount of time on your craft. Be it in honing your skills or doing actual work, you will find yourself having the minutes melt away into a blurry smear. Just like when you drank too much last year at that party and whatshisname took that picture of you without your pants on while you were wearing a casserole on your head and riding that goat. What? Don’t remember that?
My point exactly.
So in this creative process we are spending many hours building artistic fortitude. In the dedication to our cause and fulfillment however, we have to remember that a balance is necessary. Often I know I toil away like a mad scientist in a bubbling, smoke filled underground volcano laboratory while upstairs, the rest of my life quietly goes on without me. Specifically, my lovely fiance and our petting zoo of cats, a dog, gecko and the errant fish. Every so often, I have to pull myself away from auditioning for more voice over work or finding the secret to reanimating corpses and head on up to see her.
And our lovably dumb dog Toby.
And our sadistic, skittish, lazy and fluffy cats Seyda, Mama, Sonny and Jasper (in that order).
And Rocky, the no-adjective-quite-applies leopard gecko.
And the afore mentioned fish.
Why do I say this? Well, for one it breaks up my day and for two, it ensures that I remain connected to the people and things that also grant me fulfillment and pleasure in my life. These are some of the very elements of inspiration and substance that inform my creative juices. It doesn’t matter if art imitates life or life imitates art, you need both to make the comparison.
So be sure to absorb all of the elements of your life. I can tend to be a work-a-holic, so I have to force myself sometimes to take a break to go for a quick walk, read a book, watch some brain numbing television, check in on a friend, look at the sky or watch cars zip by. Whatever it is, it can only expand and replenish the creative well. The well thrives on experience, and if your only experience is in trying to drain the well, its a bit redundant and will eventually burn you out and dry it up.
There is another part and monumental benefit to bridging the connection…but I’ll get to that in my next blog. I need to tear myself away and do something else that is important…