I was reading up stuff on the web when I stumbled on this site. I read the article thinking it would be about the 10,000 hour rule, only it wasn’t exclusively about that. This is the portion of the write-up I liked best. I can’t help but say this is recommended reading…
I understand why Zen masters give their students koans, i.e. unsolvable, logic-defying riddles. They are trying to crack open the young aspirants’ minds by making them hurl themselves over and over into a brick wall of futility until they finally and inevitably give up … and inexplicably succeed.
To speak in one’s own voice means to let go of all the other voices in our heads. Whose voices? The voices of what is expected of us. Yes, that means the voices of our parents, teachers, mentors. But it means something more elusive too. It means our own expectations of what we should be doing or ought to be thinking—what is “normal” or “right” or “the way it ought to be.”
“If you meet the Buddha on the road,” says the master, “kill him.”
In terms of the aspiring writer, we sit down and try to write the way we think writers write. If we’re painting, we paint like painters paint—or dance like dancers dance. What this means of course is that we’re writing like somebody else writes and painting like somebody else paints and dancing like somebody else dances.
The agony of an artistic apprenticeship comes from our inability to bust out of this self-imposed prison. People tell us to “break the rules” or “think outside the box.” But how the hell do you do that when you’re trying to? You can’t. It’s a koan. It’s impossible.
How does the actor get past his own excruciating self-consciousness? How does the entrepreneur come up with an idea that’s really new? The answer is they both beat their heads against the wall over and over and over until finally, from pure exhaustion, they can’t “try” any more and they just “do.” The writer says fuck it and writes a sentence in a way he would never imagine himself writing a sentence, and to his amazement that sentence is the first real sentence he’s ever written.
The price of achieving that breakthrough is time.