Friday, May 8, 2009

Learning Curves

Our new baby.

Above you see my reason for the slowdown in my posts and comments. We're the proud and excited new owners of a netbook, a nine incher, about the size of a trade paperback. Bruce, my wonderful s.o. realized that since my elderly (8 years!) writing laptop never got on the net and might die at any time, a backup computer might be good. And since it weighs less than 3 pounds, it travels well! But, right now, I'm on a learning curve. The keyboard is different and smaller. The screen is smaller and I haven't used a mouse pad in years. So, I'm slower than usual right now.

Which brings me to the subject of learning curves for creative people, because I've noticed when they occur in the creative process, it can be frustrating. To the point of blocking the process, or worse, abandoning the project altogether. While it's acceptable in everything else to have to take the time to learn something new, it seems unacceptable when it's writing or painting or even playing a musical instrument ("Well, if you just practiced more..." when you're practicing as much as you can.). Perhaps this is because people believe talent=proficiency, which it doesn't. Everything new takes time to learn and for what we're good at the curve can be a cliff instead, because we're already at a high level.

Add to this that creative people often dismiss any accomplishment (Of course I can write short stories, that's so easy. It wasn't when I wrote my first one.) that we "guilt" ourselves for not being instantly proficient at any new creative task. And all this takes the energy that could be used for learning and creating! So give yourself a break the next time you tackle a new anything!

Does this resonate with you, dear reader? Do you have learning curves going on that you may not even be aware of, and if you are, are you beating yourself up about now learning fast enough? Or even that you need to learn?!

Oh oh, low battery, now where do I plug in the charger...?


Anonymous said...

Congrats on the new addition! How fun! Enjoy the challenge, AND the learning curve - before you know it, using it will be as easy as any other machine.

And thanks for the reminder re guilt over not being perfect immediately - yes indeed, it does resonate with me.

I will now go back to writing those *&^% query letters, instead of moaning about how hard they are. :-)

Helen Ginger said...

You're new computer looks cute. I have a laptop, but it is huge. Seriously heavy. I finally bought a roller bag to lug it through airports. It killed my shoulder to carry it in a shoulder bag.

Most of the time, I feel like I've learned enough. No more. Nothing new. Stop it, stop it. Oh, okay. I'll do it.

Helen Ginger

Conda Douglas said...

Beth, good luck on your query letters!

Conda Douglas said...

Helen, your laptop sounds like mine, which is so old it almost doesn't qualify as a laptop anymore. And I go through the same process of "I've learned enough!" No, I haven't, I've barely begun.

Kathy McIntosh said...

Your new netbook is cute! Easy to tote.

You're right about learning curves and writers. I took piano as an adult and over several months didn't progress very far. I never berated myself for simply "not knowing" as I do when it comes to writing. Skilled pianists and other musicians practice hours a day. I'll work on giving myself a pat on the back instead of a slap upside the head.

Conda Douglas said...

Too true, Kathy. Whatever creative pursuit we pursue, we all need to remember it takes a lot of time and effort! It's work, even though it's a passion!

Lynda Lehmann said...

Ah, Conda, new hardware is always a challenge. You will get used to it, but by then you'll need a new one, lol.... They change everything so fast.

For me, there's not enough time in the day and I can't live without creating. I must be old and overly self-forgiving, because at this point in my life I rarely wait to "get it right." What matters to me most is the joy of the process.

When I think about the 6-7 programs I'd like to learn to facilitate my art interests, I'm humbled and even intimidated. But I don't let that stop me! Even if I have to go ahead without them, I plunge in to making art. :)

It's a form of madness!

Swubird said...


First off, I also have an Ausus. Mine is a 10-inch, XP, and I bought it with the 6-cell battery pack. I am out of the house a lot, so I thought it would be perfect for writing in the car, mall, or any other place I might be. The only thing I don't like about it is the small keyboard. I have to be real careful when typing, or else the cursor is liable to take off on its own. I don't like MicroSoft Works, but it'll do in a pinch.

Now to the learning curve. I was first introduced to the theory of learning curves when I had Psych 101 in college. As I remember, it's a nice S-shaped curve that initially swings up steeply, then levels off almost almost horizontal, then upward again. Great. I get it. That's how a normal human being learns. But the thing is, my learning curve seems to be a straight up vertical line. Not much of a curve involved. This is especially true when it comes to writing stories. Oh, I plug away, but I tell you here and now, nothing is easy for me. I labor over every word, sentence and paragraph. I wish there was a nice S-shaped curve, because by now, I'd be on the upward end of it.

So what do I do to help myself. In a nutshell, I read, I study, I write down examples. There are millions of writers out there, and I study their writings. Plus, of course, I follow you blog.

Happy trails.

Conda Douglas said...

Lynda, I believe that your experience is common. Creative people love to create, all the time! We're addicted, in a really wonderful way.