Thursday, June 21, 2012

Jack of All Trades

I give myself too many projects. Right now I have a children's book to illustrate, board game artwork to draw, my book rewrite, critiquing someone else's book, miniatures to make, painting on other miniatures, music to score, this blog to continue updating...

But that's the fun part.

See, as a creative mess, a multi-talented individual, you never get bored. With so much to do, you could switch tasks whenever it starts to feel monotonous. "Hmm. My eyes hurt from staring at the computer screen. Let's go paint." You feel productive all the time--because no matter what you worked on, you were getting things done. And if you get really burned out (not very often, but it does happen) there's always books and video games to rejuvenate your mind, or exercising to rejuvenate your body. 

There is a catch, though.

You're not considered to be the best at any one thing. Jack of all trades, master of none. That's the saying anyway. People who focus on one talent supposedly progress a lot more quickly than those who try to do everything. If you take a look around you, seeing the product of the single-talents of the world might be more daunting than it is inspiring. You look at a piece of art and say, "Wow. I'm never going to be that good." Artists are constantly drawing. Musicians are constantly practicing. Authors are constantly writing. Me? The only thing I do consistently is sleep. Draw for an hour. Practice if there's a piano nearby. Take four hours to write fifteen hundred words (not joking, writing can be that slow at times). But you get better, still striving to be master of all.

The question is, Is that good enough? Are jacks of all trades good enough at what they do to be worth it, or are they doomed to produce second-rate work forever? What do you think?



  1. That's kind of what I've always felt like. I knew that I was good at a bunch of different things, but there was always someone that was better than me at everything I did. Usually it was you, if that makes you feel better. But I do think it is more fun to be good at lots of different things instead of being super amazing at one thing. As long as they work at getting better at everything they're good at, I think that's good enough.

    1. That's so sweet, thank you. You don't need to compare yourself to me--your strengths are different than mine, and I love what you bring to writing group (both your writing and critique work). And just so you know, I've always been a bit jealous of your academic skills. :P

    2. Awww...thanks. You're so nice, and you're amazing at what you do.

  2. I asked this question in one of my first posts on my blog. It's a tough call, but the truth is, there's always going to be someone who you think is better at something than you are, no matter how good you get. Unless you've got an ego the size of a house, of course. So even if you did nothing but write for the next ten years, you'd probably still feel inferior to someone else.

    Meanwhile, the advantage to being a jack of all trades is being able to act on more of your creative ideas, and using each kind of skill to advance the others. A dedicated writer might have a good idea for a video game, but they'll be unable to make that happen on their own. They'll need other people to help them out. Brandon Sanderson certainly isn't going to be programming the Mistborn game. That kind of partnership can be really nice, but it doesn't always work out.

    And besides, a lot of the higher-up positions in many creative teams tend to be jack-of-all-trade types. Those who have experience with all aspects of the project and can make realistic decisions about it. Game producers and designers are this way. They might not be a programming wiz, but they know enough to be able to sit down and talk with their programming team to develop realistic goals and deadlines.

    So I think it's worthwhile to have lots of hobbies.

    1. I can see that you've thought a lot about this, and I mostly agree with you. I'm very proud of the fact that I can do a lot of things, even if I'm not the best at them.

      It's a problem, though, when I spy the "master" of any given thing--and I know that if I only practiced my painting more/if only I wrote more/if only I didn't waste my time doing all these other things, I'd be as good as them. But I'm not, and I likely never will be.

      At the same time, I can say, "Well, I bet he can't write/draw/paint/compose/etc." and that makes me feel better.

      Thank you for taking the time to write such a detailed comment. Love you, angel. :)