The "stuff" of art

Photo by Steve Johnson / Unsplash

There's a difference between learning how to do something and actually doing it.

A lot of people will (try to) teach you how to do something. They'll sell you a course. Give you the theory. Explain how something complex can be accomplished in a surprisingly simple way so that you can reach the same success they did.

It's an easy sell. Why wouldn't you want that?

And for many tasks, this "How To" knowledge can get you 90% of the way.

But for things that require more creative thinking - e.g. art, entrepreneurship - theory only gets you so far. At some point, you have to dive in and do the work. You have to put in the time, energy, and often - the agony. Only then will you truly understand the material you're molding.

You could (try to) learn about all the potential pitfalls first in an effort to prepare for every possibility. But would you learn faster if you just began?

You could (try to) fully understand the form of the art before putting pen to paper. But what is form without details and decisions? Details and decisions are the stuff of art. It's what it's made of. All of that comprises the larger form that can then be studied and analyzed by the scholars and gurus.

Maybe you're writing a speech. You may study the form of the great speeches out there. But only when you put pen to paper and tease out the form through the details of your writing do you truly realize if the form fits.

What if our greatest learning and discoveries actually happen when we are in the weeds of the details and the decisions?

If that's true, then we must wait no longer and simply begin.

Mark Sommerville

Mark Sommerville

Los Angeles, CA