Thursday, January 5, 2012


Last year, my goal was doing.  Not striving, frenzied, accomplishment-driven doing, but mindfully working at those creative things important to me. Doing and not just thinking or talking about doing and not getting distracted by activities that feel like doing but are sometimes just exercises in avoiding the uncomfortableness of sitting alone in a room with a blank something - piece of paper, canvas - and trying to fill it up with something from inside.

The schedule I had at the beginning of the year was a faint memory by the end of it and one of the hardest things to reconcile myself to (I'm still not there, actually, and might never be).  But while I hate getting home when it's dark, and while I struggle with all the time I'm forced to spend when I actually get home prepping for my next work day (because I work far away from home and have to be pretty organized), despite all that, maybe even because of it, I managed to plug away, a word here, a stroke of paint there, and stay true to my intention of doing. 

There is something about a condensed window of time that distills creative energy and burns off hesitancy and doubt - there just isn't any time to indulge in that. Working in this way, I cultivated a contentedness with incremental progress instead of throwing up my hands in despair because I didn't write complete poems or paint paintings in giant, gulpy, swept-away sessions.  In fact, I didn't finish very much of anything.  And I'm ok with that too because for me the doing is the thing.  The only thing.  Anything after the doing, after the finishing, is something else entirely. 

The important thing is taking one step forward, followed by another and another, and - will you at look at that - we're walking!

Two resources that help me tremendously in this endeavor of doing:

Do the Work by Steven Pressfield (I about fell off my chair when this appeared on my amazon recommendations early in the year - that "Do" in the title seemed planted there just for me).  And by the way this one's free to read on a kindle.


The Getaway Car: A Practical Memoir About Writing and Life by Ann Patchett, a long essay about her experience as a novelist but appropriate for all creatives and can be had for the princely sum of $2.99 (again for a kindle).


d smith kaich jones said...

"real" life so often limits us - it never occurred to me that i might see it a bit differently, that it could, in fact, be an opportunity to really focus on whatever. like you, the doing is the important part for me, the real goal, the true gift. you have shifted my thinking.

and yes to steven pressfield. i am unfamiliar with ann patchett, but hey, i have a kindle and 3 bucks.

and happy new year!


pattisjarrett said...

Thanks for sharing the links, and your experience. It looks like it paid off!

Serena said...

Immediately purchased The Getaway Car because of this. 2011 was difficult for me in terms of being able force myself to make time for creative endeavors. "...getting home after dark...spending time getting organized..." yes. This year is my year though.

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