One of my favorite websites these days is 99u, which I highly recommend everybody check out for wonderful articles and advice on jumpstarting your career, streamlining your life, etc. I could spend hours reading their posts–but that would definitely go against their overall message, which is essentially: stretch whatever ingrained ideas you have regarding your abilities…and work, work, work. Eventually, they seem to be saying, it will pay off. This message was made explicitly clear in one of their recent interviews with documentary filmmaker Kirby Ferguson, when they asked:
What would your advice be to the 20-year-old version of you, who’s just starting their career?
I wish I knew that you can just start copying other people’s stuff and fiddling with it, and putting stuff into it, and just sort of build from there. It’s okay to be primitive. That’s a perfectly fine way to start making things.
I wish the earlier me understood work and practice more. Just the repeated concerted effort to get better at things. I wish I didn’t have the notions of talent and genius I had back then. I thought, “Oh, these other people, they just have something that I don’t have.” When really, they are just people who work more.
I wish I understood work. Work is the key to anything you want to do. If you want to play the guitar—anybody can learn to play the fucking guitar—you can be good at it. Maybe you won’t get to be a genius but you could be good.
You can be good enough to write good songs or make a good film or whatever. There’s no such thing as not having enough talent to get to that level. I mean, persistence is talent, really. Just sticking with it. Talent is not stopping.
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