Tuesday, June 11, 2013

How Perseverance Helps Creativity Blossom

Guest Post Time!

Christi is the brilliant genius behind
Novel Conclusions. A former English teacher and aspiring author who loves everything related to words and creativity, she currently writes and lives in Southern California. Go check out her blog at NovelConclusions.com - you know you want to. And now, let's get to today's post.

In Kadie’s post last Tuesday, she highlights a talk by Candy Chang where Candy reminds us that “life is brief and tender” and that we must decide what we will do with our lives. We must take action in order to create in our lives. Creativity, the art of creating, the act of innovating, requires decisive action and perseverance in keeping that momentum going. A spark of inspiration is great, but we have to fuel the fire to keep it blazing.

Being a master of your craft and of your own creativity requires perseverance, study, and figuring out what works for you. Anyone can have an idea, but you are the only person who can bring that idea to the world with your signature touch on it. The glory of art is in the execution. Van Gogh and Monet (and honestly, a ridiculous amount of people if you judge by the crazy amount on Google Images) have painted hay stack landscapes, but they look very different in the execution.

What Van Gogh and Monet have in common in this instance is that they painted prolifically to get things right. They painted everything around them over and over and over – and over again – until they couldn’t even look at hay stacks anymore. They persevered to get the lighting and the brush strokes and the color just so. Their creativity, the mastery of their craft, was fueled by persistently pushing forward and experimenting. They kept on working and trying new things when others would have stopped.

Author JK Rowling was famously rejected by 12 publishers before Bloomsbury accepted the Harry Potter manuscript, but she kept on pushing. Pierre-Auguste Renoir suffered from severe rheumatoid arthritis, but he kept painting anyway and became one of the most prolific Impressionist painters of his era. Thomas Edison (who reminded us that "Genius is one percent inspiration, ninety-nine percent perspiration”) was one of the most prolific inventors in history; his creative innovations in electricity led to the technological advances that allow you to read this blog.

In Malcolm Gladwell’s Outliers, he expands on this theory and gives example after example of individuals who became masters of their craft after putting in roughly 10,000 hours working on their specialty (check out this really cool detailed infographic about the 10,000 hour theory here). HOWEVER – big caveat coming up here, people – this does not take into account mindless repetition. If you play “Chopsticks” on the piano for 10,000 hours, you still won’t be Beethoven. So what does this take into account?

Perseverance in your craft means:
  • Practicing areas of your craft that are (currently) outside your comfort zone
  • Checking yourself (where am I at with this skill? How can I expand my knowledge of this aspect?)
  • Always devouring ideas related to your field (like reading art-related blogs!)
  • Working to create and innovate even when you want to be doing something else
  • Not being afraid to fail – every failure is a stepping stone toward mastery
Perseverance can open up new avenues for your creativity. Sometimes when you push through, you find something you never expected. How are you taking action to create in your life? What have you created when you kept pushing? What else does perseverance do to support creativity that I didn’t mention?

Leave your thoughts in the comments below.

P.S. Check out this awesome TED talk on grit and how it impacts success:

Want to read more from Christi? Check out her blog at NovelConclusions.com.

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