About ten years ago I decided I’d like to take up playing golf.
I needed exercise, had the time and liked the idea of playing against myself.
I got some clubs, not cheap but not silly-expensive.
I went to the local driving range and talked to some people in the shop there.
I met a guy at work who played and offered to go round with me so I could get the hang of playing a course.
I was all set.
Went to the range, hit some balls. It was really easy to hit the balls.
They didn’t go very far and the direction was a bit random, but that would change with practice.
I read some books, checked out some videos, watched people play golf on TV and went to the range some more.
More balls were hit and it did indeed get a bit better.
Then I went round with the guy from work.
He was great. Very encouraging but also very quiet about what I ‘should’ do.
I really liked golf. I wasn’t very good at it, but I was sure I’d get better. And when I say ‘wasn’t very good’, I do of course mean I was comically awful. But it felt great to play, to try my best and to know I’d get better if I applied what I was learning.
I went to the range, played a round now and again and kept getting the tiniest bit better.
Then I had a lesson with a pro.
He was very encouraging and very good. His summary was that I could indeed hit a golf ball, and depending how ‘good’ I wanted to get, he could help and suggest stuff.
My aim was to understand golf. To know enough to be able to play with someone and enjoy it. To get better each time I went out and to start applying the rules so that I was measuring myself against the game, not a vague notion of what the game was.
I still really enjoy golf. I don’t play enough to improve, but am at a level where I can play a round and not completely suck. Not completely.
Golf is a very physically driven thing. The technique used with the tools are to achieve a physically tangible aim. The great thing about golf is that you really do play to improve. You are measuring your own improvement and can see results on the score card.
Creating things is not like golf.
Except it is.
But it isn’t.
But really it is.
And there’s the nub of why creative people find it hard to develop, to improve and to accept measuring themselves.
We sometimes need a ‘pro’, we sometimes need someone to tell us where we can improve in solid, doable terms that we can apply.
But being creative we keep applying the ‘it’s all so esoteric and subjective!’ argument. It’s a good one to stop us realising how much we can learn from others and how much we can improve if we just practice and do the thing!
We need to accept that we need feedback. We sometimes need help. We can always learn from others who do our thing. And most importantly of all, we must actually do the thing. A lot. Do it over and over again and apply what we learn to get better.
It’s not golf.
But it’s not rocket-science either.