Until 2001, best-selling author David Sedaris wrote all of his work on a typewriter, pecking with one finger. He reluctantly started using a MacBook to write and only last June used the Internet for the first time. He admitted that writing on a computer was more efficient. On the typewriter he often wrote to fit gaps he’d whited out thinking, “What can I write that will fit in that space?” He used to type pages over and over, “If it’s a good enough word you should be willing to type it 10 times.”
Being that deliberate about his craft was so inspiring to consider.
It reminded me of Malcolm Gladwell talking about needing to put in 10,000 hours in order to master something. And Scott Berkun who says in The Myths of Innovation that innovation is a product of having many many ideas. That’s one of the reasons I think digital photography is so exciting – because marginal costs are now 0 you can take 1000 pictures and a handful are bound to be really good. I even think about an interview with Slash where he talks about being unpopular as a kid so he holed up in his room playing guitar for hours every day. Don’t think a great idea of piece of art falls from the sky – it takes lots and lots of work.
A year is 2000 work hours (40 hrs a week + vacation). So to master a craft you must work 20 hours a week for 10 years or 10 hours a week for 20 years. As I grow older I realize how doable that is. I’ve spent this amount of time singing and playing guitar and have mastered both. And I imagine to be on earth many more decades so it’s not too late to start something new. After decades of being obsessed with rusty metal and art made of found objects, I recently started a Welding for Yard Art class at Lake Washington Technical College and totally love it. It’s not too late.
So start now.