I spent this morning playing with my son. For over an hour we played the same game. I stacked six colourful plastic blocks on top of each other. Then he pretended that it was a grandfather’s clock from Hickory-Dickory Dock, a cartoon he has seen on Youtube. In his favourite version, it’s not just a mouse running up the clock. The size of the animals gets bigger and bigger culminating in an elephant stomping up the clock and breaking it.
My son held a monkey in one hand and an elephant in the other. Methodically, he let a monkey ran up the clock. Once the monkey was safely down it was his elephant’s turn. When the elephant was on top of the clock, we made lots of noise while tower shook uncontrollably and then fell apart to his utter delight.
I was conscious of two things: how meticulously he followed the pattern and the boundless joy he got from repeating the same actions. This is how we learn. Get really present to what we do. Be patient. Repeat. And most importantly, Enjoy the process. These are the key ingredients of any learning and success.
Why do we then expect to suddenly write a masterpiece without playing with our material again and again? Why do we expect to be great at things without being willing to learn through taking action and repeating it until we feel complete? My tendency used to be to compare my work unfavourably with someone’s published book. I seemed to overlook the fact how many revisions it takes to get to the final product. The pressure I put on myself to create something spectacular from a scratch only stifled my creativity.
Perhaps, it is no coincidence that several powerful books I have read were written as if it was a letter to a friend or a dedication to one person. A lack of pressure to perform whilst enjoying the process can boost our creativity like nothing else can.