From interactive artist Erik Loyer (Opertoon, Strange Rain) comes another innovation in the art of storytelling. This time, the project aims to educate, engage, and “explore the historical relationship between freedom and confinement in the United States.”
Here’s your Friday thought: Expertise can be yours with a simple 10,000 hour investment.
We writers–high-school students to showrunners to Nobel Laureate novelists–certainly know a few things when it comes to creating stories. We make people laugh, we make them cry, and–if we’re lucky– our audience claims our stories as a part of them forever.
Even that phenomenal success does not necessarily mean we may claim the title of “expert”…not in its truest sense, anyway (for there is much room in our culture for casual use of the idea). It doesn’t mean we know all there is to know about our art, our craft. Today’s post is a reminder to seek out that which we DO NOT know in our work and learn more about it. Today. Do it. Just one thing.
Want to know how to become an overnight success? Sure, there are people who, every minute, land in New York, London, and Hollywood’s eager laps and get swooped up into the publicity machine to be lauded as fantastic! A spectacular spectacular! And surely they are all of those things…but perhaps “dazzling” isn’t an all-encompassing definition of success nor expertise.
You need a particular kind of practice— deliberate practice —to develop expertise. When most people practice, they focus on things they already know how to do. Deliberate practice is different. It entails considerable, specific, and sustained efforts to do something you can’t do well—or even at all. Research across domains shows that it is only by working at what you can’t do that you turn into the expert you want to become.
So whoever you are, whatever your accomplishments, keep working. Stay curious. And remember that you will always have learned more than someone else and there is always someone who has learned more than you do. And that’s a great thing.
For more on the subject, check these out online or at your local library:
So I was at one of those pay-$15-bucks-to-hear-what- you-already-know literary industry panels tonight. You know the kind where you’re surrounded by people who only leave the house to go to hear how they can find an agent who will adore their really great book–really, it’s great!–and find them a million-dollar advance? (Hey, I had nothin’ to do on a Monday night and I’m looking for an agen–never mind). And the inevitable questions were asked including: “Why has the world so completely switched from fiction-love to non-fiction-love?”
Answers were offered by very qualified people but still, I wanted to chime in here, if I may. It seems to me that the reasons for this can be somewhat easily observed: we, as a culture, have moved from the joys of being lost in the imaginative realm of fiction just as we have moved increasingly towards being a rational, logic and Spock-driven society, though we don’t know it. By that, I mean that we’ve steadily moved away from emotional experience–or at least the open acknowledgment and seeking of it. I don’t even know if we realize it as individuals. But, being human, we still need and crave emotional, imaginative experiences even when it is not fashionable to say so (even when we have lost our abilities to recognize what is missing). Listen, why else have we swarmed en masse to reality television and to books about harrowing emergence from impossible odds? It’s the visceral experience that draws us again and again. Yet we are not free, somehow, to enjoy the departure from rationality if it is not based in fact. Shame, that. The better questions are: what’s happening to reading, to our culture?
When I’m too lazy to dig out the Chicago Manual, I turn to a bevy of online sites to help with word usage. Today, I found Grammar Girl (all hail!). She’s not only a sassy vixen but she simplifies all your most pressing grammar needs into memorable, usable, bites. I highly recommend you stop by and say hello.
You go Grammar Girl.
Get on with your bad self.
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Other helpful sites for the wordographer:
Washington State’s Common Errors in English
and, when in doubt, get the Urban Dictionary out, y’alls.