I Spit on Beginner’s Luck!

The term ‘beginner’s luck’ can be one of the most hurtful and disparaging, often said in a moment of envy by someone who has plenty of experience and is often miffed by a newcomer’s success. No, this is not a story of jealousy or an anecdote, just an observation. I wanted to look at the phrase itself, ‘beginner’s luck’. I guess it means an innate sense of how something might be achieved: ‘this is my response to this particular scenario; this is what I have the capacity to do, there you are.’

I think ’ beginner’s luck’ doesn’t take into account all the processes that have been undertaken to be in the position to have a go. We are all very quick to say, ‘Oh I couldn’t; I wouldn’t know where to start.’ And my answer to that would be ‘just start.’ No matter how young or old we are; whether we are weighed down by the weight of the world’s back catalogue or whether we feel we are too old, past it, suffering from the, ‘I should have achieved so much more by now’ routine. There is nothing for it but to begin and you don;t necessarily need to be on a writers’ retreat to do that.

Mathematicians and Poets

There is a depressing statistic that mathematicians and poets, to name two areas, achieve their best work before the age of 30. I toss that into the arena and you can chew on it later . We are always setting ourselves deadlines: this must be sent by 11, that has to be completed this week, this is the year when I……If there has to be one deadline it’s each morning when we return to full consciousness  we should  say, ‘Today…I am …’

Evading The Internal Critic

The key to preventing our experience from dictating the approach rather than being an adviser we can call on when we require some help. For example, if someone said, ’Can you give me your opinion on this?’ and you took the writing and scribbled through the whole thing and said, ‘You should do it like this.’ Imagine what they might say or do? Nasty, eh? So why do we allow our internal critic do this to us all the time? Why, when we have an idea, does our inner critic say, ‘Nah, been done before, don’t waste your time.’

Flight Or Fight

So, what do we do if we find ourselves enslaved by our adviser who is actually a despot in disguise? Well, it is suggested we are all supposed to approach our creativity as a beginner anyway. Don’t allow what you know to be uppermost in your thoughts.  Imagine instead, this is the very first time we have put pen to paper, after all, our experience can make us suffer from competent incompetence. This is where we have done something so many times we no longer think about what we are doing. As a beginner, all our senses are firing, our frontal cortex is switched and our ‘flight or fight’ response so we have that nifty sense of panic that makes us unable to concentrate on anything else except the task in hand. We think about it all the time, we worry, we practise, we imagine we will never nail it. Then we do and the skill ceases to have importance so we treat the thing with an element of disdain and that’s when we start making unconscious mistakes.

Finding Connections And Putting Marks On The Page

So, what does a writer do who has been scribbling since she first learned how; she starts painting, that’s what she does and is even thinking in pen and ink drawings the minute she wakes.  I even stand at the kitchen counter painting on the way to putting the laundry into the machine! This morning I was up early and by eight my journal was written, two small paintings were complete and I am writing this blog as a beginner. Painting makes me smile, I do not care how naïve and daft the work may look, I enjoy it, it gives me pleasure, I smile. The difference between holding a paintbrush and a pen couldn’t be more profound. I grip my pen as if someone is about to snatch it away but I hold the paintbrush with a light touch, I feel like a completely different person; I take risks and that’s what life is all about – just finding the connections and putting a mark on the page. What are you waiting for?

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