Image by Justin Hackworth.
Art? You just do it.
- Martin Ritt
In my life, that’s been easier said than done. Waaaay easier.
I’m working through The Artist’s Way with a group of friends. (I wrote about one lesson I’ve been learning over at Design Mom.) It’s my fourth time beginning the book in the last 13 years, and I’ve finally gotten past Week 7 (of 12). It’s a real personal triumph. Last fall, when my friend Mindy Gledhill spoke at Creative Collaborative, she referenced The Artist’s Way and then joked, “I don’t know anyone who’s actually finished it.”
I nodded knowingly.
Several weeks later when I was feeling the pull of the book again, I knew I needed some accountability and I emailed Mindy to see if she might want to join me. She knew a few other friends would be interested, and then a few more friends joined us, and it’s been so much fun to talk about creativity and process, blocks and discoveries under the guiding influence of Julia Cameron’s words of wisdom.
One of my favorite truths from The Artist’s Way, one of my own personal blocks to doing creative work, is the fear of the finished product. I’m so worried about the end result that I have a hard time getting started. Julia Cameron calls it an “addiction to anxiety in lieu of action.” I worry about creative work instead of doing creative work. Although I would freely, wisely advise others to take baby steps, I ignore my own advice.
This is just what I needed to hear:
“We fail to see the many small creative changes that we could make at this very moment. This kind of look-at-the-big picture thinking ignores the fact that a creative life is grounded on many, many small steps and very, very few large leaps.”
So I’m trying to dismiss that big picture, for now, and focus on work that is fun, timidly trusting process over finished product, and asking myself what the next tiny step is. Forsaking later, I’m trying to ask, what can I do now?
P.S. On my birthday last week, Justin posted the nicest thing on his blog. His birthday was last month. My tribute to him is forthcoming.