Do more of a certain action, get better at that action, get more of the results it gives. Simple right? And yet, it’s a principle that we apply unevenly to our world and our ideas about capacity.
When we’re talking sport, production, technical skills, we accept the premise unequivocally. Yes, that’s how sportsmen become great, craftsmen reach the top of their game and how we can all get that little better at almost anything mechanical.
But when it comes to conceptual, creative thinking, ideas and art, suddenly, we’re all on the side of inherent, in-born genius. But the facts just don’t support this distinction.
Some memes claim 50 000 works some sites 147 800. Either way, Picasso made a lot of art (and wrote poems and plays too!) And yet, his reputation as an artistic genius is based around approximately 100 works… a tiny, tiny percentage of his output.
This is often used to motivate the idea that we should just get busy and create… if someone as famous as Picasso is famous for only 1% of his work, if we make a similar amount, we might get rich and famous too… goes the logic
But will we?
“I have not failed. I’ve just found 10,000 ways that won’t work.” Edison
Well, a quick sweep of the figures tends to agree… a LOT of very well-known artists were extraordinarily prolific… they seemed to LIVE their art, completing at least a song or painting or two every day!
But what has that got to do with being GOOD?
Well, its all got to do with automating your skills set and thereby liberating your unconscious.
When we are not particularly good at a physical skill, we must remain in rational mind to do it, to watch, correct, monitor etc. However, when we have practised that skill over and over and over, our body knows what to do… it is fit (so to speak) for that activity and we can switch over to a kind of physical autopilot.
Trap, tap, dribble, shoot!
We see it all the time with sports stars, and we accept that they practice hard and repeat simple moves over and over and over to become the best. No-one takes one look at Ronaldo and thinks that the man never practices or trains. Of course he does.
So do the very best creatives. In all the iterations lie grains of awesome. Iterate enough and you will mine it out. Iterate enough and you will get good at writing, photography, painting, sculpture, poetry, building businesses, coming up with innovative ideas.
Barbara Cortland holds a world record for writing – in 1983, she wrote 23 novels. She was 82 years old. Two novels a month that year. But there’s more! Altogether she wrote 723 published novels and finished her last at age 97. When she died a year later there were 160 unpublished novels still unpublished.
And it just goes on and on. Picasso himself said, “The less Art there is in painting, the more painting there is.” In other words, (and I hate this for being true) but Nike has nailed it: Just do it. Forget about what or how you should be doing things and get busy and don’t stop and keep looking for ways to improve.
Still not convinced?
Prince wrote between 500 and 1000 songs (maybe more)
Mozart composed over 600 pieces in his lifetime.
Charles Schulz made 17,897 Charlie Brown strips before he died.
Richard Branson started when he was 16 and His Virgin group controls more than 400 companies that he started.
Don’t be afraid to generate bad ideas, write poor text and create bad art. Move on to the next, focus on doing more, better, experiment, grow.
This takes time. Don’t focus on stuff for which you have no passion.
Live your dreams, which means, work on them every single day
The Picasso Prolific is simple… but takes time and effort and you really have to BELIEVE!
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