by Yael Barcesat
Inspiration is overrated. Not long ago it was revered in a glass tower, immune to any critique. All until someone, apparently Picasso, who said: “When inspiration comes, it can find me working.” And that was quite the revelation.
It hasn’t been too many decades since that moment until the theory of ten thousand hours from writer Malcolm Gladwell. Gladwell wrote that the most successful people across all fields, from the Beatles to Bill Gates, shared a passion for their work that led them to persevere to reach ten thousand hours of practice in their metier. Passion, although not the terminology used by Gladwell, I think is the real protagonist of all conquests.
Surely everyone remembers a famous scene from the movie Kill Bill where Uma Thurman in the back of a truck, almost completely paralyzed, start moving her big toe with a maximum effort of concentration (she looks at her foot and says “wiggle your big toe”). Only a short time later, she is able to get out of the car walking, which makes us suppose that she spent all that time animating the rest of her body with her willpower. In this case her passion is by necessity, which always seems to drive passion.
Passion gives rise to inspiration, discipline and the means. Some time ago a student invited me to write a weekly column in a blog he edited. I had no experience in publishing articles. I had no experience in producing a readable text on a weekly basis and with a specific number of characters. However, I did have some experience in accepting challenges and finding solutions to them.
Initially, I spent the whole week thinking about when the right time to start writing would be, hoping that inspiration would come, triggered by an event or conversation. The truth is that only happened the first ten weeks. After ten weeks the ideas stopped falling from the sky. That was when my ten thousand hours truly began. The best solution I could come up with at that time was to set aside a specific time each week to write my text. This was the “necessity” part that exacerbates passion. The self-enforced discipline magnified the challenge, and gave rise to the passion. I remember days when only the last ten minutes of my whole hour were fertile for writing, and I especially remember the anguish of feeling like I was wasting most of the hour. But the truth is that since I established my time for writing I never again suffered from worrying about not finding inspiration that week. Today I have less than three hundred hours of writing experience. That makes me happy because I still have nine-thousand seven-hundred more to go.