The importance of showing up – how success comes from repetition. As Woody Allen says, 80% of success is showing up. But the importance of showing up isn’t always understood. Nor is the link to the idea of how success comes from repetition, mostly made famous by Malcolm Gladwell’s ideas of Mastery and the 10,000 hours in his book, ‘Outliers.’
But is any of it true?
I don’t know whether I can give you a solid, scientific answer, but I can tell you how these ideas have worked in my writing and creative life.
Waiting For The Muse
Like many young creatives, I think I spent a lot of time doing random things while ‘waiting for the muse’ … essentially waiting until I was in the ‘mood’ to create, or until I felt inspired. I wrote a lot and made a lot of things like this.
However, I wasn’t able to consistently string together a body of work. I made minimal progress in my voice, my skills set and my general ability to clearly get my ideas across.
Like many creative people, I assumed that this was just part of the creative life. Sometimes you can write, sometimes you can’t … and I left it at that.
Putting In The Grunt
It wasn’t until much later in life that I began to realise that, by putting in way more hours practicing my craft, I was actually turning into a better writer. But more than that, I was getting better and better ideas!
I worked for a couple of years as an online entertainment journalist at two different news portals. I had to generate a lot of copy every day … anywhere from 4 to 10 stories depending on what was currently happening in the world. In the beginning, this was overwhelming!
I felt like a worker in a sausage factory … oppressed, underpaid and producing low-quality work.
It wasn’t until the sub-editor pointed out that they had to make a lot less corrections in my work after 6 months of solid writing that I began to realise what this volume of writing had done to me. Simplistically speaking, my writing technique had improved. I was technically a better writer than when I started.
With all the correction and the desire to improve, I did.
Finding The Magic
But it wasn’t until I wrote a poem a day for 18 months that I began to realise how turning up every day and just writing will give you access to ideas and creativity way beyond what you thought possible.
I did not write a genius poem every day. I just wrote a poem. And in the first weeks, it was really hard to find ideas to write about. The standard was generally low. I was working my way through well-worn and known themes and concerns.
Once I got through that though, it was like a whole new world opened to me. My poetry style changed, the subjects I was writing about broadened and deepened and I began to go places I had never thought of going.
The result was a 90 poem collection of poetry that you can still buy here (https://www.amazon.com/You-Someone-Like-ebook/dp/B00BMLL636/ref=sr_1_1?dchild=1&keywords=david+chislett&qid=1606126460&s=digital-text&sr=1-1 )
The Maverick Secret
You’d think that, being a maverick, it would be easy to dismiss the importance of just showing up. Yet, if you don’t, you swiftly fall behind. Being wilfully engaged with your ideas, showing up shouldn’t be an issue. If it is, maybe you need to check in with WHY you’re doing what you’re doing.
BUT if you take this advice to heart, what will really happen is that you will start to stick out, to be different. The truth is most people don’t keep showing up. Their enthusiasm wanes, inspiration dwindles, and they give up. Not so the maverick!
Keep showing up. Keep swimming upstream, that’s where the interesting stuff is.