Monday, April 9, 2012

The Importance of Frustration

How frustrating can writing be? Enough to make you quit? Sometimes. But according to Jonah Lehrer, frustration is what makes creativity work. Think about it. How many times have you been told that it's the hard work that makes the job valuable?

In "The Talent Myth" Barbara Baig (The Writer April 2012) says it in a slightly different way. Baig says that talent really is the result of deliberate practice, not a gift. Without hard work, the constant reaching for objectives just out of reach, we can't become better. Writing well requires a constant striving for improved craft skills and not accepting "good enough."

But do we really want to be frustrated? Looking back to Lehrer, I think we have to accept the frustration to get to our goals. His equation is:

                                          problem = frustration=creative breakthrough

So, we should be thrilled when we're frustrated with the problems we face--when the book's plot sticks, a character refuses to behave, or a sentence baulks. Frustration is good for us. Really! ; ) Don't believe me? Check out the following video illustrating Lehrer's point.

What do you do when you're frustrated--give up or buckle down? Here's to persistence and deliberate practice!