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10,000 hours, that Ira Glass quote and a Zenpencils version

November 18, 2015

This piece by Zencomics, based on the below quote by an American radio show host/ producer, Ira Glass –

Nobody tells this to people who are beginners, I wish someone told me. All of us who do creative work, we get into it because we have good taste. But there is this gap. For the first couple years you make stuff, it’s just not that good. It’s trying to be good, it has potential, but it’s not. But your taste, the thing that got you into the game, is still killer. And your taste is why your work disappoints you. A lot of people never get past this phase, they quit. Most people I know who do interesting, creative work went through years of this. We know our work doesn’t have this special thing that we want it to have. We all go through this. And if you are just starting out or you are still in this phase, you gotta know its normal and the most important thing you can do is do a lot of work. Put yourself on a deadline so that every week you will finish one story. It is only by going through a volume of work that you will close that gap, and your work will be as good as your ambitions. And I took longer to figure out how to do this than anyone I’ve ever met. It’s gonna take awhile. It’s normal to take awhile. You’ve just gotta fight your way through.

Now this piece really resonates with me. Once upon a (silly) time, I used to dream of writing a book. Soon, I realised I’d never be able to write as well as some of the authors that I love. (Hi, PGW, Bill Bryson et al) So I gave up on that. Similarly, for a year, I learnt how to play the guitar. And then I realised after a lot of attempts to keep at it, and practice in my spare time, that I probably don’t have enough passion to actually put in the hours and keep at it.

Then came photography. It is still something I enjoy, but again, I lost that absolute enthusiasm for it after a while. Every once in a while, it resurfaces.

My current passion is sketching. Yoga also falls in that category. So does running, but pretty much in that order. But honestly speaking, of the three, the first one is something I could get really good at. I have this seemingly unrealistic dream of becoming good enough to become an illustrator some day.

Given the 10,000 hour rule, even if I sketch everyday for 30 minutes for the rest of my life, I will need another 54 years to reach 10,000 hours (assuming I’m starting from zero now). Gulp. I may not even be around by then. And then, I figured, if I want to do this by the time I’m 50, I’d need to put in at least 2 hours a day. Hmm.

On the flip side, it would be so cool to embark on a new career when you’re 50 🙂

So maybe I should get a framed poster of this comic and keep reminding myself that it’s okay if I hate my work on most days – I’m at least putting in the work.

[Edited to add: Okay, after a day’s thought, I realise I probably put the bit about becoming an illustrator in the heat of the moment, after being enthused from the quote. At this point it seems unrealistic, but hey it will be awesome if I can make it happen. If not, more importantly, I hope I can become the best illustrator that I can be!]

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