Lousy Form, Perfect Form, or: Why learning something late in life isn’t that bad.

“You play baseball coach for a moment. Two players run to first. They both have the same time, but one has perfect form, the other, lousy form. Which one do you pick?”
“The one with lousy form.”
“‘Cause teach him the right form…”
“And he beats the other guy–”
Bob Russell and Will in “The West Wing”

In some instances when I talk with others about their hobbies, I find out that they do something in an unnecessarily complicated way. This happens frequently when the topic is writing, esp. the writing of larger works, like fiction novels or scientific monographs. I have done both, and based on experience and the literature I have read about it, there are frequent misconceptions but also certain things you can do to make writing significantly easier. It’s still going to require a lot of effort, a death-march through hell in many cases, but you can take the edge off.

But what also frequently happens is that I notice something like an “Uh-oh, now I look like an idiot” in the eyes of my conversation partner. They do something that is central for their identity — but they do it on an amateur level. They might feel like they wasted a lot of time doing things overly complicated. They might not feel like the author working on being discovered but like an dilettante.

Personally, I don’t think this is a problem. They did something they burn for — and you have to burn for it if you ever want to finish a book — under more difficult circumstances than they could have done it. It took extra effort, it took persistence, and perhaps the work was not as good as it could have been, or some of their works even failed unnecessarily.

But now imagine what you can be capable of when the circumstances are good, when you are using the right tools.

This is one reason for this blog, for this book, for my obsession with some topics (like scientific work). And it is also one reason why I think that the Internet and today’s technology — with all its negative effects it can have, all the distraction and problems, e.g., when underage people have mobile porn production studios in their pockets — is a boon for creativity. You can find out how others work, you can talk about ways to achieve your goals, you can get inspired, you can get ideas, find out how to do it easier or at all … and share it.

Happy creating.