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The Column icon The Column: Issue 48

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The Column is a monthly feature that explores the world of creativity and aesthetics.

The Final Draft
Mike de Sousa, Director, AbleStable

The drafting process produces work which is far more likely to stand the test of time. Whatever creative activity you are engaged in, the continuous refinement of ideas and technique is what will set you apart from the crowd. There are however areas of creativity whose products require continuous updating. When do you stop trying to make your work better? How do you know you have completed the final draft?

The Musician's Mindset

The musician learns the value of self discipline and perseverance very early in their journey of learning to play an instrument. These two qualities are a part of the mindset of every musician, as without them, and regardless of how much natural talent and ability the student has, they will never fulfill their musical potential.

Practice takes getting used to, and few take to it willingly, but whether you're a painter or composer, sculptor or film maker, you're going to need a lot of it before you can begin to produce good work.

Musician's have a formal context to learn how to practice. The teacher presents a piece of music which the student often gets a buzz out of the first time they hear it. The student becomes a musician when they can, through practice, play a piece of music adequately before that initial magic dissipates and their motivation to reach their goal dries up. Unfortunately the drudgery of practice dulls the sharp edge of enthusiasm, and most people who begin an instrument give up long before they pass through the first stages of learning to play.

You will find accomplished musicians are generally more centered and disciplined individuals because of their self-regulated training.

I've spent some time talking about musicians because it is easy for the musician and non-musician alike to hear the difference between those who have practiced, and those who have not. It is rare to find someone who cannot immediately tell whether someone has innate musical ability. We recognize musical talent immediately, as we do those with good proprioception.

Our Sixth Sense

Proprioception (from the Latin "proprius", meaning"one's own", and perception) is the sense of the relative position of neighboring parts of the body. It is the sense that indicates whether the body is moving with required effort, as well as where the various parts of the body are located in relation to each other.

Proprioception is what allows someone to learn to walk in complete darkness without losing balance. During the learning of any new skill, sport, or art, it is usually necessary to become familiar with some proprioceptive tasks specific to that activity. Without the appropriate integration of proprioceptive input, a pianist would not be able to play with two hands simultaneously; an artist would not be able to brush paint onto a canvas without looking at the hand as it moved the brush over the canvas; a person could not dance; and people would not be able to walk without watching where they put their feet.

Simply put, we all have a sense of proprioception, but some, due to innate ability and a great deal of practice, become expert. We recognize, admire, and enjoy those who present their skills as musicians and dancers, because the product of their refined sense of body in space is transformed into shape, rhythmn, and ultimately, art. Sports people who are also a pleasure to watch archive these first two qualities on the competitive stage, but do not transform their movement and activity into art.

The Final Draft

One of the most important tasks in producing art is to deliver drafts for publication or performance. Sometimes these are final drafts, at other times they are revisions of the previously published or performed work.

There is an important distinction between the creation of art, and art itself. One is a creative process, the other, art, is the product of human creative activity which often holds a special significance.

There is art which is constantly transformed or renewed on each occasion it is experienced. In the case of music, dance, and theatre, the art is different depending on the venue, performers, and audience. Indeed sometimes art is wholly made up by the creative performer. Improvised art that is satisfying is however very rare and difficult to pull off. Only a few outstanding creative performers like the composer and musician Keith Jarrett, accomplish this incredibly complex challenge.

The challenge of the author is to judge when a work is complete. In the world of literature and film the editor is often a crucial partner in that process, but there are many creative fields where that judgment is left to an individual. Experience, knowledge, and aesthetic are combined in the mind of the creative author to reach a decision as to when the work is complete. Sometimes that decision is right, more often however the decision is not.

When should you stop drafting? When is a work complete? The only answer I can offer is when work viewed from outside your controlling force has achieved its potential. That potential may be slight or significant depending on the work's elegance, potential to enrich, and its sensory effectiveness.

The Never Ending Update

There are creative endeavors that never reach a conclusion or present a final draft. Software developers constantly update the products of their creative efforts as the context in which their products function, change. There is a compulsion by many developers to constantly refine and improve their code. The comparison between this process and the artist throws up interesting issues and will form the basis of my next column.


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Authors background

Mike de Sousa is the Director of AbleStable®. Mike has been commissioned as an artist, music composer, photographer, print and web site designer, and author. Mike is also the Creative Director of 2BrightSparks, a software company.

The section of this column related to proprioception used edited passages from Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia.

If you observe inaccuracies in our in-house contributions or wish to contribute an article or review to be included at AbleStable® visit Feedback.

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