We are assured through various advertising campaigns featuring women with firm perky breasts and men with granite abs and prodigious biceps, that we are all athletes. We are told that our slog around the reservoir in their gear will make us glorious, victorious and valorous. Puma calls us "after hours athletes." Nike tells us to "find our greatness" (and urges us to track our every motion through their 'fuel band.') And adidas assures us that impossible is nothing.
With billions of dollars beamed at us we suit up and run and bike and swim and lift and spin and step and jump and box and skate. We do it every day, a modern-day religion of self-actualization.
What strikes me as odd is this: I may fantasize about running a three-hour marathon (30 years ago, I came close, clocking in at 3:10:15) but my reality is I am a writer. Writing, not writhing, is what I get paid to do. And while there is nothing wrong maintaining a fitness regimen, I question why so few maintain a creative regimen.
How many art directors, how many copywriters train everyday to improve their skills?
More than 300,000 words ago I began writing this blog. 300,000 words is 1,200 typewritten pages. And those 300,000 words have made me a better writer than I have ever been. Because I have been practicing.
My blogging friends, Rich Siegel at http://roundseventeen.blogspot.com/, Bob Hoffman at http://adcontrarian.blogspot.com/, Tore Claesson at http://toreclaesson.blogspot.com/, Ben Kay at http://www.ben-kay.com/, the people at Sell! Sell! http://sellsellblog.blogspot.com/ and Dave Trott at http://www.cstthegate.com/davetrott/2012/08/the-answer-asks-the-question/ practice their skills every day, or nearly so. They are doing the creative equivalent of 50-mile weeks. They work and work and work to sharpen their skills, their perceptions, their insights.
They practice every day. And, as my mother would be sure to bludgeon me: practice makes perfect.
To bastardize a line from above, they, like me, are "after hours creatives." They find time late or early, to do what they do and by doing get better at it.
It's the only way, I think.