Worthwhile ideas are 1 in 10,000

All it takes to turn the amateur into a professional is one piece of work.

Just one days worth of work. One project. But what we don’t commonly see is the hundreds and thousands of other ideas that came before that one.

How many attempts did it take Edison and his team of innovators to turn the lightbulb into something more functional? The rough estimate ૻ based on conjecture – is 10,000.

10,000 attempts before they finally got something that worked!

How many paintings and sketches do you think van Gogh made (and destroyed) before anyone noticed him? Or how many tons of clay did Michelangelo have to go through before he wound up with the statue of David? How many versions of Infinite Jest did David Foster Wallace draft until the final, 1,079 page version shipped? Even more important: how many words did J. K. Rowling have to write before somebody thought it would be worth reading?

It’s easy to believe that one idea is all it takes to make ourselves a creative genius or artist or author. That one idea is what makes or breaks the big guys (and gals).

In reality: it takes hundreds and thousands of attempts until we arrive at where we want to be.

We have to fail, learn, adapt, try something new, explore, fail again, on and on until we’ve got enough momentum under our feet to do something that finally does change us from amateur to pro.

Many of the ideas and the work even takes place subconsciously, as our brains filter and sort through information tirelessly to help us spark the right connection or provoke the right brush stroke or sentence structure.

If your ideas are failing, or your work isn’t getting as far as you’d hoped it would, just remember that it takes many strokes to create a masterpiece, not just one.

It’s a message absolutely worth remembering and repeating.

Read this next: The creative processing your brain won’t tell you about

Illustration by Carl.