Wednesday, December 5, 2012

Wednesday Writers Weigh In: A Blessing or a Curse?

In Chapter 3: Your Creative DNA, Twyla Tharp states that it is important to know your strengths and your weaknesses and commit to ONE.  She is a firm believer that being "good at" several artistic endeavors is actually a curse, rather than a blessing.  For an example, she uses a high school athlete.  If a kid is good at basketball and baseball and football and has desires to play sports professionally, he must CHOOSE and COMMIT to ONE sport to become all he can be.  In this case she states, to achieve the highest possible competency in a particular area requires one to wear only one hat and have a singular focus.

This has been a problem for me.

Basically Twyla is against any kind of dabbling.  She requires total and utter committment.

I, personally, LOVE to dabble.  In my former life I was a teacher, an actress, a director.  I love to noodle around on the guitar and ukulele.  I adore cooking.  I like arts and crafts.  I don't pretend to be an amazing marathon runner, but I do enjoy long distance running.  I am a nanny.  A girlfriend.  A sister.  A daughter.  An aunt.  And a writer.

I feel that dabbling keeps me versatile and allows me to enjoy many aspects of life.  It might even make me a better writer.

Sometimes scheduling can be difficult.  I need to get in a run, go to work, spend time with my boyfriend, make dinner and get some writing in all in 24 hours.  But I do not have the ability to focus ONLY on writing...nor do I really want to.  I kinda like my many hats.

What do you think? 

Writers Weigh In!  Do you dabble in other endeavors?  Do you help or hinder you?  Or both?


  1. The notion that a person has to choose one strength/passion and pursue that one thing as a priority is a very old school way of thinking. There are people who do very well by focusing on one topic and immersing themselves in that subject, but there are just as many people who are successful and even thrive on "dabbling". My husband and oldest son are two people I know who work this way, sticking to one job or idea bores them to death! We knew a gentleman who was a serial business owner (his phrase) because he loved the thrill of a new idea and the challenge of getting that business up and running. Once established, he would sell it and move on to the next thing. Having a diverse range of interests also brings new perspectives and ideas in to writing or painting. I'm always wary of any advice that claims there is only one right way to do things, especially in the creative arena. Humans are just far too diverse for there to be one true way.

    1. Thanks, Heather, for such a great comment. In the chapter, Twyla tells of a time when she was sketching out choreography on paper and realized that she is quite good at visual arts. She suddenly had the urge to be a painter, but quickly (and luckily, she adds) she squashed that thought immediately. Interesting...maybe her art would inform her dancing, or vice versa.

    2. Wow. I cannot imagine simply denying myself the gift of pursuing a new interest! It's how we grow as people. This is a great post and I keep thinking about how my different hobbies affect my writing and illustrating. Thanks, Marcie!

  2. Definitely a dabbler, too. Can't imagine sticking to one pursuit, even if that means it may take me a bit longer to reach my goals. Besides, the dabbling enriches life and my writing!

  3. Moi aussi!
    I wear four hats: domestic engineer, home educator, travel agent (for our family's amazing overseas adventures) and freelance writer for women and children. I could wear many more, but these keep me plenty busy!

  4. I'm a dabbler within my writing, writing in different genres. I don't think of that as holding me back in any way, but as informing and stretching my writing in all genres.

  5. Dabbler! Now writing PB's and poetry. In the past, taught English, Reading, Junior High PE, elementary PE, and elementary computer...Loved dabbling in a variety of subjects. My faves...elementary PE and elementary computer.
    I have to admit I have a YA/adult fiction idea floating around...but, alas...dabbling takes time, so my dabbling is just PB's and poetry right now! And, I am a happy dabbler :-)

  6. Interesting that Twyla recognized her flair for visual art, but ignored it. What a shame. I truly think that it could have enhanced her talent even further.
    I am a dabbler. I love creating found art sculptures as well as write. There are times when I can do both, but lately I've been focusing on the writing only. Although I have decided to devote the month of January to sculptures.Not sure how it will work.

  7. I have mixed feelings about this - I love all the different things I'm involved with but I do feel my energy is scattered and I often wonder if I'd be a better, more productive writer if I gave up some things. I'm just not ready to do that - except my full-time job - I'll trade that in for part-time tomorrow :-)