Getting Good

6 Aug 2019

I think, although please don't count and tell me I'm wrong, that this is the 350th blog I have written for Moodscope. That's 175,000 words. Okay, so it's not quite the 292,727 words of Game of Thrones, but it's a goodly amount nevertheless.

In the same period, I've written blogs on style and fashion and two – almost three – novels.

When you start something, you're not very good at it. My first novel wasn't my first novel at all. My first novel was written when I was twelve and floundered in chapter three. My second, third, fourth, fifth etc novels all petered out around chapter five. I don't know how many unfinished novels I have in the loft and I don't want to know. One day I will throw them all out, unread.

I even managed to finish that first novel without realising that I didn't know how to write! But I knew I wanted to be good. I want to be a good writer – and that meant learning my craft and practising it.

They say there are four stages of learning. The first stage is unconscious incompetence. So – for instance, before you learn to drive a car, you don't know that you can't drive. Then you have your first driving lesson and find that you absolutely cannot drive: that is conscious incompetence. You continue to take the lessons and pass your test, but still need to concentrate fully when driving: that is conscious competence. Then after some time, you will find that you have driven from your friend's house to your home and cannot remember a thing about it because you were totally absorbed in a radio programme. That is unconscious competence

There is a saying that you must spend 10,000 hours practising before you become a master. I don't know: I think some people have naturally more talent than others. For instance, I am very sure I could spend 10,000 hideous hours playing tennis and still have a hole in my racket where the ball goes through! I have no aptitude for tennis and no interest in it either!

It's the interest that drives you to keep getting better.

For those of us who suffer with depression, this interest can wax and wane. Depression takes away the desire for almost everything – it is emotional paralysis.

Then we berate ourselves for not practising our music, or our art or our sport or (yes) our writing.

But – we couldn't pay tennis with a broken leg – and nor can we be creative with a broken mind. We must heal, and accept the time that healing takes.

We can get good, we can master our sport, our art, our craft. But it might take longer for us to put in that 10,000 hours.

Let's not feel guilty. That sport, art, craft will wait for us.

As for my writing - there is always so much more to learn. So, most of the time – I'm consciously incompetent – and I practise here!


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