“It’s what you learn after you know it all that counts.”
John Wooden, UCLA Coach
You know the saying, “Live and learn”? Well, my friend Maureen has a variation on it that I like much better: “Learn and grow.”
Learn and grow: When it comes right down to it, that’s what we’re here for, isn’t it? Both as human beings and as storytellers, we need to be open to new ideas and to use them as nourishment, as food for growth.
Whenever I read about a truly great artist in any field, whether literature, painting or dance, their restless need to explore and push the boundaries of their art always seems to be a defining characteristic. Rarely have I read of a supremely gifted artist who was complacent and self-satisfied — far from it!
This is where the “10,000 hour” principle comes in (check my post 10,000 Hours). According to this principle that’s how long it takes to gain mastery in any field. But most true masters spend far more time than that in strengthening their craft. They also love experimenting: think of Yo-Yo Ma playing American bluegrass; Paul McCartney writing the score for a ballet; and Tony Bennett singing a duet with Amy Winehouse.
Let’s take inspiration from artists like these. Let’s keep learning and growing. It’s this hunger to know more and be more that will keep us energized and motivated. Just the knowledge that we are committed to getting better, that we are determined to go from strength to strength can be so empowering! We don’t have control over circumstances or the publishing marketplace or how our work is received, but we do control the time and energy we invest in honing our craft and pushing ourselves to the next level. Write on!