Circumstances for Creative Work over Time

Men of today are facing different challenges.

Learning a completely new hobby — damn, the world has changed.

  • When I was growing up, getting information was a problem. There were books, but they were expensive, perhaps you could get a video cassette (yeah, pre DVD, which was pre streaming). Now you have YouTube videos and blog posts about any topic. Whatever you want to learn at your fingertips.
  • Courses were expensive and only available at certain times. Today, Coursera and lots of other different MOOCs allow you to learn any topic in a structured manner whenever you want to do it. And often for free, if you just audit the course.
  • Material was often way too expensive — whether it’s getting colors for drawing or film for cameras. It was often way beyond my financial abilities. Today, you make one investment — e.g., get a tablet and a digital pencil — and you have any color you want. Film doesn’t matter anymore when you shoot digital.
  • Feedback was very difficult, especially getting honest, constructive expert feedback. Sure, you could ask around what others thought about a drawing, but depending on the person, it annihilated any ambition and desire to improve. Today, yeah, you still have jerks, but you can quickly get feedback by putting material online. Heck, there might even be a market niche for a platform that is moderated so only constructive feedback remains (perhaps upvoting reviews similar to StackExchange might work). But in any case, it’s much easier to get feedback. You can even post your works anonymously.

These are only a few of the advantages for learning a hobby, or to put it differently, doing creative work today. And these advantages are impressive. However, I wonder whether we do not have equally strong disadvantages today. Or rather, one rather major disadvantage.

If I would rate the one major problem creative people have today, it’s the lack of time of focus. While information, material, and feedback (and other aspects) are very easy today, today’s world makes it very hard to focus on actually developing the skills in any discipline. There are just lots and lots of distractions. People can be reached 24/7, notifications distract, fear porn raises anxiety (not very conductive to creative work), and so on.

BTW, second would be the competition, including easy access to brilliant work, which might make some learners insecure. In the sense of «I’ll never be that good.» Nope, you won’t, not «that good». But you might be better by doing things your way.

Anyway, I think if you want to advance, put a conscious focus on having the time and focus to work. Which might mean a workspace without distractions. Or fixed times in which you simply start — so matter whether other things (distractions) might seem more fun at the moment. Especially if you are learning a difficult skill. That process will always suck in the beginning.

Just a thought.