I was listening to some of my favorite songs from the 80’s on YouTube… and I realized something that hit me years ago, but I did nothing with.

Writing a book is the most time intensive creative thing you can do. Isn’t it?

Book writing, when compared to other things creative – is definitely high on the list. I guess creating a building would be time intensive, but that’s a team of people. If you did it yourself I guess it could be a couple month project. Is putting rectangles and other shapes together – taking their physical properties into account – creative? I guess it is…

I guess a symphony composition would be tough – but who is doing that anymore?

Writing a book in the old style – for print, takes a long, long time. Hundreds of hours. Maybe thousands. If you work 8 hours a day for 5 days a week that works out to 21-2,000 hours in a year I think I remember from somewhere (too tired to do my figurin’). That’s a full year of work. Since some people take years to finish their books, you can see where I’m going with this.

How long does it take to write a song? I think I could write a great song in anywhere from 1-3 days. The music – someone else would have to handle. I’m no musician. A song has the potential to affect the entire world – to rev them up and get them dancing in the street. A song can affect our emotions intensely. Much more than a book I think. For most people anyway.

How long does it take to create a sculpture? Lets say a full human figure of marble… a couple weeks? A couple of months? Not longer than a couple of months I’m sure. I have no skills in that area either – but, someone that did could whip up a marble statue in a couple of months – surely.

What else is there?

Origami? Maybe it would take you a week to come up with something different.

Website post? Couple hours, day or two at the most for a good article of 500-1000 words.

Drawing a scene? I’ve seen people draw an entire detailed scene in minutes. Painting a portrait… couple weeks? Max.

Photographer? I can’t call a photographer creative – as hard as I try. I was a photographer. Sure there is some skill to it, but basically you’re pushing a button at the right time when the settings are correct. It does take some imagination to take great photos. I’ve seen some advertising photos that took a lot of thought. How much? Couple days. Week at most.

Directing a movie? Writing the movie took the effort and time. Is putting the movie on film really that creative? Nah. I don’t think so. You already have a script – like a book someone wrote… nahhh.

I must be missing about 90 things – but I can’t come up with anything else really creative – like an artist would do.

Pottery? A couple of minutes. Glass blowing? A day, couple days.

Book writing or script writing for a movie takes more thought than maybe anything else you can do creatively.

Can anyone think of anything that takes more time?

5 comments

  • Patrick says:

    I think that we might make a case for live performing arts. The reason I say this is only because it involves so many more people, and each of them has to invest many hours of time.

    For example, take a Broadway production of “Phantom of the Opera.” It is absolutely stunning. Think of the man hours that went into that one performance. Even the guys who run the lights and the audio have learned skill sets over years, decades maybe.

    Or a Cirque de Soliel show. Same thing. Hundreds of actors, performers, technicians, all coming together, creating the score and the music on the fly by live musicians, acrobats flying all around, etc. Just a huge amount of work and total man hours.

    Not to mention the scripts and the creative forethought that went into these live performances.

    Now as for the individual (which I think is what you might have been getting at), I would tend to agree that books are pretty darn labor intensive.

    Reminds me of what Seth Godin says about books….how they are more powerful than other media because they are a physical, tangible object that you can hand to someone, and now they have this….responsibility to you, to act on it, and read it…..etc.

    A good topic, anyway, and something I will think about now that it has infected my mind!

    • MikeFook says:

      Hey Patrick – how are things? I was talking about individuals – but didn’t really state that did I? No doubt, Cirque de Soleil has put more time into coordinating their performances than I have with all the writing I’ve ever done! What about you… is there a book coming out of you? I foresee an autobiography in your future…

  • Matt says:

    Mike, I totally agree with you on the whole book being the hardest one. As you stated, you are not a creative. In my perspective I would disagree to that statement based on the work I have seen from you. From your early online presence before spiders and snakes(the video of you on a swing in a red shirt talking computers), Thaipusle, ebooks…, and now you have this site. That’s creativity! That’s not what I am debating however. I am posting this to simply highlight your perspective on books being the most labor intensive type of project. I have been trying to put together a book for about five years now. You need to count (or not) the crazy amount of research needed. Yeah, it takes time! As long as someone has a good memory, patience, passion, ambition, and the true to life understanding that it will probably take 2000+ hours (minimum) to simply get the sentence structure fleshed out, then you will have a book. I don’t see how you could not create a decent and readable piece with this understanding. I once heard something about Shakespeare in regards to the separation of author and story, I paid no attention to it! For me, the real laborious endeavor is finding that small part of you that believes you may actually have something worth saying that could in-turn, influence the world despite the fact that they never really noticed it all going on in the first place. Finding that courage and then applying it to the list of ingredients mentioned above can only create quality products. You also need a lot of free time and frequent neck massages. lol!

  • MF says:

    Wow Matt. What you said here – “the real laborious endeavor is finding that small part of you that believes you may actually have something worth saying that could in-turn, influence the world despite the fact that they never really noticed it all going on in the first place.”

    Is right on.

    I have a book idea just like this… every single human being on earth could open their eyes and see this idea happening around them – and yet nobody has written about it from what I can find… I’ve looked hard too.

    Why haven’t I written about it? I keep putting other ideas before it because – nobody has written about this. Will anyone care? It does take a lot of courage to get going with it – and faith in yourself that it’s an idea worth pursuing because if you can’t sell it – 2000 hours is a hell of a lot of time to waste on a personal project. I’ve wasted 10 times that on all my projects that were just “for me”.

    Thanks for your comment Matt.

  • kristalsoldier says:

    Hi…

    Very interesting series of posts on your site. Very informative too!

    But this is in direct response to Matt’s comments. You concluded your post by saying…

    “Why haven’t I written about it? I keep putting other ideas before it because – nobody has written about this. Will anyone care? It does take a lot of courage to get going with it – and faith in yourself that it’s an idea worth pursuing because if you can’t sell it – 2000 hours is a hell of a lot of time to waste on a personal project. I’ve wasted 10 times that on all my projects that were just “for me”.”

    In effect, what you are asking is whether an idea is worth pursuing if you can’t sell it?

    You – being a writer n’ all – would probably be one of the first to recognize that by viewing writing (and having ideas on which to write about) in this way would most likely inhibit the ability to write – creatively, that is. In other words, thinking about writing within a cost-benefit mode probably does more to strip away what is creative in writing per se. Of course, developing content that sells is a completely different proposition. But then you are in a different ball game there – you are just manufacturing/ producing widgets (in this case it may happen to be e-content) and attempting – justifiably so – to “turn a profit”.

    Personally, I think that trying to make a living out of writing may not be the best way to approach the prospect of writing. Creativity in writing demands – from my point of view – total freedom from pressing material concerns. And, like in most things, there are two sets of illustrative examples. One of the case of “classic” writers who wrote (and continue to do so) against all odds producing brilliant work – though at a personal level they remained often near or below the poverty-line. The strength of these writers lies in their being able to ignore (or be oblivious to) the material conditions surrounding them and pressing on with giving expression to their creativity via their written work. And, then there are the rest who are mediocre writers – in terms of talent, impact, longevity etc. – who have done very well for themselves (and more power to them for being able to do so). While the latter group, which also happens to be a larger one, do use the medium of writing, their work is more heavily influenced by their more market-driven objectives (i.e., making a comfortable living).

    All this to say is that writing is one thing; writing to “sell” is quite another! Wouldn’t you agree?

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