Beethoven's Successive Approximation

One of the great stumbling blocks for artists of all kinds is the idea that — if we were real artists — our works ought to spill out of us fully formed.  How scary is that? Who could start a new project if you have to get it right the first time?  No one can do that.*

Beethoven certainly couldn't.  He crossed out nearly as much as he wrote, and he scribbled out ideas and notes for three years before he actually wrote his Symphony No. 5 in C minor. (Yes, in WASTE BOOKS.)

Just four notes—how hard could that be? 

Here's Leonard Bernstein showing us how hard it was, bringing some of the Master's discarded sketches to life and allowing us to see how he played with his themes until they were absolutely right.  In other words, Ludwig van Beethoven was a genius, but even he used SUCCESSIVE APPROXIMATION to make his work as perfect as it is.

The fear of not getting it right the first time is crippling.  This is why Lichtenbergians start all their work with ABORTIVE ATTEMPTS: that way we know it's wrong, and we're okay with that.  After all, if SUCCESSIVE APPROXIMATION worked for Beethoven, it will work for us.

* Except for Mozart, but he doesn't count.