I’m learning to play the guitar…but I’m not very good at it. ☺️
I am an untalented beginner
Music doesn’t come naturally to me like writing or visualizing an idea does.
But… I ❤️ my guitar’s rich sounds and that to play it, I actually embrace it!
I ❤️ the way a strum slowly dissolves into silence with no clear edge between the two.
I ❤️ that a G scale always sounds so good – like magic every time!
I ❤️ that it can sit so silently in the corner of my office – yet contains so much music.
My mind ❤️s decoding the new language of notes, rhythms, dynamics and fingerings.
My left hand ❤️s having such an important job to do! (I’m a righty).
I ❤️ every small improvement because it is so hard-won.
I ❤️ that it shows me what it’s like to not “just get it” – which makes me a better, more humble teacher.
I ❤️ that it absorbs me completely, effectively “rinsing” my brain of all that was there before I began practicing.
I do it because I LOVE the experience of it — and that LOVE makes me an “amateur”— from the French, “one who loves.”
The Surprising Benefits of Being an “Amateur”
1) Freedom from Pressure
Of course it’s fun to be good at something – or have it come naturally (talent). But the better I am, the more likely I – and others – are to raise the expectations of my skill/talent. Too much expectation builds up pressure which can shut me down or steal the joy I originally found in the activity.
2) Patience for the Process
I can take my time and enjoy the learning itself. I set process goals (like practicing 2-3 times a week for twenty minutes), rather than a product goal of “perfecting a piece” or “getting good.” Process goals give me the good pressure to show up without the bad pressure to perform in a way that I’m not ready for yet.
3) Freedom to be right where I am
My identity isn’t connected to it. I don’t say, “I’m a guitarist,” or even, I play the guitar, but rather, “I’m learning to play the guitar.” Of course, there’s nothing wrong with the identity of playing the guitar – but there is a special kind of freedom that comes from not needing to be good at it yet!
4) Beginner’s Grace
Beginner’s grace is like beginner’s luck, but it’s what others extend to you. Like having a student driver sticker on your car or having “server in training” on your name tag, the world extends a special grace to people who are learning to do something.
Creativity ≠ Talent or Skill
Equating creativity with talent and skill – with being GOOD – is a sneaky Inner Critic tactic to keep you stuck – so you never risk looking bad (gasp!).
But to learn anything, the first step actually is to take just that risk!
Creativity Challenge: Pick one creative practice you’ve always wanted to try and give yourself the gift of being an amateur for one month– play with it just for the love of it! (Let me know in the comments below what you’re practicing and how it goes!)
Or… if you’d like more structure and support (or have an especially insistent Inner Critic) come get unstuck together in my signature creativity class: My Juicy Journal.
Even if journaling isn’t ultimately your “thing”, getting your Inner Critic OUT of your way and having a fun, simple and effective creativity “container” for one month are key first steps to being able to actually show up and practice for the joy of it.
Get Unstuck & Play at being an Untalented Beginner…