February 09, 2015
Here is this week’s 200 words project:
**“And work itself, after a while, takes on a rhythm. The mechanical begins to fall away. The body begins to take over. The guard goes down. What happens then?
And then men are happily following my last advice:
Which results in more relaxation and more unthinkingness and greater creativity.
– Ray Bradbury in Zen in the Art of Writing: Essays on Creativity
The best example I have of this process which Ray talks about, in my life, is in typing. I am learning to touch type.
I went through school and college in that unique period where typewriters were outmoded, and PCs, “computers” were rare enough that I never took any typing classes. A decade and some later I find myself typing a lot, every single day, using a homegrown weird two hand, five finger system – two fingers of my left hand, three in my right. And I have to type looking at the keyboard.
This situation I found in equal measures, sad, funny and humiliating. And so I finally decided to teach myself touch typing.
The challenges of teaching yourself touch typing, when you are typing all day to make a living are enormous. When you try to touch type all the time, it is too slow, too hard. And you fall behind on work. And your fingers hurt. And it takes a huge amount of will power to actually follow through – which depletes you will for the other tasks.
And so, I decided to focus on touch typing for 5 minutes a day, for one month. After that, it moved to 10 minutes in the second month. And the third month, 15 minutes a day, every day. It has now been about 6 months. I still struggle. But I am much better at it.
As I was writing my 1000 words for today, I realized that the above sequence which Ray Bradbury talks on how to more creative, applies to achieving excellence in all manners of tasks and skills and abilities, and it mirrored my progress on learning touch typing too.
The progression seems to be something like this:
And so the progression – learning to fear, to no-fear, to relaxation, to competence – to more relaxation, to excellence – this seems to be the arc we follow in all our activities – be it typing or creativity or meditation or cycling or calculus. This process seems to reflect on the huge impact emotions have on how we learn.
About the 200 Words Project
Once every week, on Monday morning, I will post my ‘200 Words Project’ post where I will ruminate on some idea which caught my interest in the current book I’m reading, or maybe (sometimes) from a blog post or podcast – in 200 words or more, never less!
Suprada Urval's blog.