Master your craft in 2 hours a day

200805182019.jpgI ran across an article that postulates that one can become a master with 2 hours of practice every day. Who has 2 hours? What with work, and kids, and the house, and the yard and the TV watching time, and websurfing time, and exercise, and cooking, and cleaning…

Yeah, well, you’re going to have to sacrifice something in order to become a master. Because you’ve got to practice.

The very word makes me yawn. It’s really quite difficult to sit down and practice something. I want to be performing, to be executing, to be producing something meaningful at every stage of the game. I just don’t have the patience for practice. I’m not sure what’s happened to my patience level, or if I was ever a patient person. I’m thinking the latter is the actual truth.

But to say that the only thing you need to do in order to become a master is practice…that’s not really true, is it? I’ve spent several years thinking about this, trying to figure out why I’m not the best, why I’m not rich, why I don’t rule the world. And I think I’ve narrowed it down to this:

Before you can take even your first step toward becoming a master of anything, you need to pass three tests.

The Test Of Drive:

I want to make great comics. And what drove me to the drawing table was an urge to pick up a pencil and start to write and draw. Awesome feeling. I had an idea and a comic at the end of the session, and I felt great. But with the release of that creative energy, the urgency to create the second comic was nearly non-existant. I didn’t have the same inspiration-fueled drive that made me want to write and draw instead of the much easier task of watching TV.

But I did it. I made my second comic, and my third. How did I get myself to do this? I had to eliminate inspiration as the sole motivator to get you to the table. I needed to make it a habit. I needed to do it regularly and consistently whether I felt like it or not. I needed discipline.

The Test of Discipline:

This is a really hard one to get past. Your inner lazy-ass dictates that if it feels good, do it. And it’s virtually assured that when you sit down to work, it’s not going to feel good. It’s work. That’s why they all it work. Work does not connote pleasure. So in order to get discipline, you need to defeat your inner lazy-ass.

And this isn’t an epic final battle. This is a war. A war without end. Some days you’ll win, and you’ll get your 1000 words written or your page drawn or your stairs built, but some days, you’re going to be soundly trounced, and you’ll spend the day on the sofa.

Now, I’m pretty good at creating a new habit and sticking to it. The ability to sit down and produce even if I’m not feeling it, I have it. Not huge amounts of it, but usually enough to get me where I need to go. I exercise nearly every day. I eat decently nearly every day. And I sit down and motivate myself to work nearly every day. (The exception being manual labor. My inner lazy-ass is Superman when it comes to manual labor. )

But a new problem emerged. When I sit down to work, I’m here, I’m ready, so…what do I work on? I need focus.

The Test of Focus:

This is a serious problem. And this is where I’ve lost the most blood and time. I only have two hands, but I’m fighting a hundred-headed hydra of things I want to do. Aside from the non-negotiables like family, I’m being snapped at by my desire to become a master of:

  • Creating comics
  • Writing
  • Drawing
  • Graphic Design
  • Web Design
  • Programming
  • Animation
  • Video
  • Podcasting

And I’ve not been successful at defeating this hydra. I’m getting by okay enough, but I’m not moving to that next level in any of these fields. And I won’t until I pick one head, cut it off and mount it on my wall.


Recommended Reading:

“Mastery: The Keys to Success and Long-Term Fulfillment” (George Leonard)