I have been reading some wonderful articles recently, having email conversations with online quilting friends, and generally thinking about craft, quilting, talent, creativity, and blogging. Everything seems to have reached a point where I think I can coherently articulate a few thoughts, and I welcome you to join in on the discussion through the comments. In fact, these discussion posts are often more rich from the comments than from my blog post alone, so be sure to take some time to read the comments or come back (if you are here early) to see where the discussion leads.
First I want to thank Leanne @Devoted Quilter who pointed me to a very fascinating article a few months ago: The Truth Behind Natural-Born Talent. I agree wholeheartedly with the premise of the article which is laid out right at the beginning:
As it turns out, we are born with very few, if any, natural talents and skills. Excellence is borne not of any particular innate ability, but of practice. In other words, you can be good at whatever you want.
The article just as quickly comes to the crux of the situation.
Whatever you want—therein lies the rub.
There are people who have found there niche and excel and seem genuinely at ease. Whether or not that is the case is a topic for a whole different discussion (!!! as my husband frequently says to me, “Remind me to never be famous.”), but I can think of people as far back as childhood who just seems to intuitively know what they wanted to focus on. I have never had that same sense, and in fact, I believe many of us who are creative types have that feeling.
Which brings me to the next part of the article.
If it’s possible for anyone to acquire any skill, why don’t more people do it?
The first answer, of course, is that it’s difficult, much harder than people realize, and requires an incredible amount of discipline. It just takes time and effort, which most people don’t have or aren’t willing to give.
But the second answer, the one I don’t hear researchers or psychologists address nearly enough, is one of motivation. That’s the other side of the issue. If I can do anything, what makes me choose one pursuit over another? It has to come down to desire, to passion, to what truly motivates you.
There are actually many more reasons and excuses not to do any particular thing (we all have our unique and creative methods of self-sabotage), but the fear of a difficult journey and lack of passion definitely resonated with me as major roadblocks that come up over and over in conversation.
In fact, I just heard an interesting version of that recently. A friend mentioned that she heard (in her own words):
…one famous quilter’s advice to “not read blogs as a way to not be indirectly influenced by what someone else is doing.”
I personally see that as a form of fear related to a difficult journey. I hope you know that I am crazy passionate about the quilting community, especially the online community, and I just do not see the logic in this thought process. We are all influenced daily by what we see, the people we interact with, and the world we live in.
I applaud anyone who knows their limits and carefully controls on the time they spend online so that they can be more attentive and attuned in their real lift. But choosing to not read blogs to avoid influence? I would much rather turn off the TV (which I do). I know there is a risk to being influenced and creating work without giving credit, but I expect everyone to kindly hold my feet to the fire and not burn me at the stake for any inadvertent credit misunderstanding. We are all only human, and I will openly air my foibles and correct my mistakes as I learn more and will strive to do my best. And I certainly cannot ask more of anyone else.
Which leads me to another thought: even blogging itself is a skill that requires dedication and time to hone. I think that when it comes to quilting, we all understand that it can be approached as a lifetime learning process. The article recommends:
- Find something you love.
- Do it until you can become good, hopefully even great, at it. And don’t worry if you’re not that good yet. This is what practice is for.
- Share your gift in a way that helps other people. If you do this, you actually can get paid to do what you love. Otherwise, it will only ever be a hobby.
This is true for so much more, though. So I want to also wrap this back around to the 2016 New Quilt Bloggers who are just getting a footing and establishing blogging routines. Blogging takes time and effort, and your reasons for blogging will probably very well change over time (it has for me!), but it is a journey that I feel has richly enhanced and supported my quilting journey and an integral part of helping me evolve as a quilter, designer, and friend.