Sunday, July 12, 2009

How Much Practice?

10,000 hours, apparently.

I enjoy Malcolm Gladwell's books: The Tipping Point, Blink (my favourite) and his latest (which I'm just reading) Outliers - The Story Of Success (which I'm not enjoying so much).

In this latest book, he explores the factors that go into making some people exceptionally successful. It seems to hinge on a few crucial twists of fate, the time and culture they grow up in and the way they spend their time.

Another factor is that most of the successful people he investigates have worked at or practiced their skills for around 10,000 HOURS! On average, that's at least three hours a day for ten years. Practicing.

It seems that's what it takes.

They say that practice makes perfect.

But perfect at what?

I've been thinking about this since I wrote a few days ago about practicing the piano.

If I'd practiced for half an hour each day - as I was supposed to - I have no doubt that I would have been a better pianist. If I'd practiced for 10,000 hours, I daresay I would have been a very competent pianist. But would I ever have been great? Or successful? And is that what it was about?

With art, I like to go out sketching and if I do it often enough, I get better at it. I know this.

I could draw for 3 hours a day for a decade.

I could go to life classes and take lessons.

And I might do.

In the end I might be very competent at drawing - technically very accomplished. I could look at something or someone and produce an accurate likeness, probably in a variety of media and variety of styles. And I'm sure that would be impressive.

But would that make me an artist?

I don't think so.Practice makes perfect,maybe, but without that other "something"its just good draughtmanship.Give me a few inspired rough edges any day!
I agree Duncan!
Surely in these post-modern times everyone, regardless of practice, is an artist! (this is either irony or sarcasm, I haven't yet made up my mind)
Yes Anonymous ... but only for 15 minutes. Excellent comment!
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