It’s been an interesting couple of years for me. After a decade of freelance writing I took my hobby of painting and developed a business from it. Being in these two creative worlds has allowed me to see how fragile we are as creatives, how much we long for certain achievements or ways to find meaning in our work.
I feel like I’m always stretching, never sure of what comes next, always pushing, always praying!, and always learning… and then making decisions on what my instincts are telling me.
One of the things I do a lot is read, especially business books or things that will help me in this pursuit as a creative entrepreneur. There’s a buzz phrase that’s been floating around for quite a while now called “deliberate practice,” and I LOVE this phrase and all it means. It’s in connection with the “10,000 Rule” talked about by Malcolm Gladwell in his book Outliers, and while some argue about this rule, I like what it implies for creatives.
Basically Gladwell says it takes about 10,000 hours of deliberate practice to master whatever it is you’re trying to master.
As creatives, we very often wonder why God isn’t “blessing” our work or our achievements. Why don’t we have a book deal or art agent or sales or fans… but since we are followers of God we have to take a step back and know that everything we do is important. It’s not always the “goal” of a book but the hours spent honing your craft. It isn’t the big marketing effort that gets you the byline but all the smaller things you did for years that helped you get the assignment that would give you the big byline.
In other words, nothing is wasted. We know that God’s blessings aren’t always about the things we feel are “successful” by society’s terms (money, fame, book sales, fans) but (as I say in my ecourse Getting Closer to God Through Mixed Media Art) there is blessing in the doing. Imagine yourself getting closer to God every one of those 10,000 (or more!) hours as you write poetry or paint? Imagine that God is shaping your relationship with him while you work on your writing craft, even as you lament that you haven’t found the right publisher?
For me, deliberate practice means inviting God into my work life and efforts so I can get the most out of my creative output. Sometimes I spend a night painting and leave my studio feeling like my soul is full. Sometimes I stay up at night writing a poem and when I awake the next morning I feel energized despite the lack of sleep because I was able to connect with God in that way before I shut my eyes and called it a day.
There is blessing in deliberate practice and mindful waiting.
Yet the LORD longs to be gracious to you; therefore he will rise up to show you compassion. For the LORD is a God of justice. Blessed are all who wait for him!