As a fountain pen nerd, I know that sometimes you have to endure a few false starts before you get a pen to write smoothly again.
Sometimes flushing out the nib requires running warm water through it until all the gunk is gone.
Ed Sheeran compares this process to creativity and songwriting.
He says that when you first start using your creative abilities, it's like turning on an old tap. "It's going to flow sh*t water out for a substantial amount of time."
In other words, it takes time and effort to get to quality.
Sheeran admits that when he was starting out as a singer-songwriter, his songs were terrible.
But he didn't let that stop him. He kept writing and eventually, the "clean water" started flowing and his songs got better and better.
Making authentic art is a process, not an act.
It’s not just about the ‘10,000 hours’ popularised by Malcolm Gladwell’s 2008 bestseller, Outliers. It’s about how those hours are used. It’s about something called ‘deliberate practice’.
So flush your nib. Get the gunk out. Hone your craft.