I’m a man deeply suspicious of creative how-to’s. That is, any book that advises me on how to approach anything creative. How to write well. How to act. How to draw. How to sing.
I woke up this morning and worked on “The Morning Pages”, a daily writing exercise that demands three pages of whatever is on your mind. It doesn’t matter whether it’s good or bad or makes sense at all. The important thing is to just get them on the page. The whole thing is explained thoroughly in the book The Artist’s Way. I’m still in the early stages of reading it, but I will let you know how it goes.
Anyway I mostly avoid these kinds of books because, generally speaking, I’ve always felt there’s only so much you can be taught; that skill grows from actual experience, not rhetoric, and from the application of whatever theories and disciplines you might have either been taught initially or just know instinctively. Fortunately for me, my instincts have always been pretty sharp. At least I think so…
That being said, I don’t really know whether talent and creativity can be taught or whether it is something that just comes naturally. I do think the more important question to ask is, “How great is my interest in any of it?” How much do I care? How great is the passion? How deeply does that fire burn?
In this game, the only thing that comes natural is the fire. It’s the only question worth asking, the only question ever worth asking. And once you know, you know. Afterward, there’s no looking back. Furthermore, those who aren’t born with a whole lot of skill in something learn to acquire it, and they are motivated to acquire it by the sheer power of their interest, by their passion which overcomes any of those so-called obstacles.
Of course, the greatest of these obstacles is that voice in your head which has a way of sticking around in the initial stages. A voice that says “Dude, you suck! Why are you wasting you time with this?” No doubt, in the beginning, your greatest potential enemy may essentially be your own self. But it’s only a potential enemy. So you might as well turn your self into your own best friend. With enough time and patience, you learn to do just that…even though the voice might come back every now and then.
If you care enough about what you’ve set out to do, if you’re driven enough, you learn to get over the fact that you suck and you basically ignore it. From that point on, you focus on just one thing. Getting better. And that focus, that tunnel vision, is aided only by how much you love what you’re doing and what you’ve further set out to accomplish in the days and nights ahead.
Is “talent” and creativity something born or made? I think the answer to the question is just another question. Who cares?