How To Stop Counting Old Beans And Past Harvests And Start Sowing New Creative Seeds

I have a confession.

It’s a bit of an addiction I have, that sometimes takes up far more time and energy than it should, time and energy that could be far better spent in other more creative, more healthy ways.

I like counting beans.

Not actual beans. What I mean is keeping score, tallying up, focusing on what I’ve already done, instead of what I’m doing now, and what I want to be doing next.

For example, looking at all the stuff I’ve written and feeling a little too complacent and pleased with myself, rather than writing even better new stuff.

Or checking my Google Analytics or Feedburner stats to see how many new visits I’ve had on my sites today, this week, this month, this year, instead of focusing on new ways to encourage more readers, and to better serve existing valuable readers.

Or looking back nostalgically on creative glories of the past, rather than creating wonderful new glories right now.

I’m all for celebrating your past successes, and acknowledging your evolution as an artist.

I think it’s vitally important, and if we don’t do this, it’s so easy to forget how far we’ve progressed, and forget how we’ve created far more than we thought.

But there’s a fine line, a balance to be found.

Procrastination manifests its beautiful visage in many ways, and this is one of them.

You’ve created great work in the past. And you can create great work again. Better, deeper, more beautiful and more passionate art than you’ve ever created before.

But only if you create it. It won’t magically just appear in front of you.

You can think about creating it, you can plan creating it, you can read about how to create it for the rest of life. It’s not the same as creating it!

As artists, a restlessness and a curiosity is inherent in most of us. This is a good attribute because it drives us to keep exploring, keep reaching, keep communicating, keep creating.

Make use of this, let it lead you. Scatter those new seeds, and see them grow.

image: apol photography

But while you’re waiting for them to grow, keep scattering, keep sowing.

Don’t return to your plot and keep poking the soil every hour to see what’s sprouting. And don’t keep reminiscing about golden harvests of past years.

Create, now, today.

What do you want to create right now, more than anything else?

Go for it, give it everything you have. Start sowing your glorious creative harvests of the future today.

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6 thoughts on “How To Stop Counting Old Beans And Past Harvests And Start Sowing New Creative Seeds”

  1. Gee, I do the opposite; I forget how much I’ve accomplished in the past, and tear myself down because I’m not aware of it. I always feel as if I’m running behind and trying to catch up, as opposed to sitting on my past laurels.
    Both attitudes are unhealthy, of course.
    Hmmm, I need to find some way to record my successes. I’m not sure how…Any ideas, Dan? How do you count your beans? 🙂


    1. Well, as you’ve asked, the first that came to mind is when I was studying for my Coaching diploma. We had a set number of modules in different areas – some theory, some practical, some in groups, some individual – and I created a sort of bar chart/ grid, to record my progress. Looking at the empty chart at the beginning and seeing I had 70 modules (may have been even more actually!) to do was daunting, but as I coloured in each completed one as a block on the chart I could gradually see my progress. I’m a fairly visual person, so this really helped me stay motivated and keep going.

      I know that art has less specific and definite boundaries or ways of being measured, but for me a mini review every 3 or 6 month to look back at what I’ve written ALWAYS reveals it to be more than I thought. It’s useful when we say to ourselves things like “I haven’t created ANYTHING in weeks…”, this reveals that’s rarely, if ever, the case.


  2. A chart might activate my perfectionist, but a list would serve the purpose.
    I’ve been telling myself I need to begin cataloguing my work. Sounds like a good summer project…


  3. My charts were pretty primitive! For example for the practical sessions, we had to complete thirty. So I drew a long thin rectangle, divided into thirty sections, then coloured in a section each time I’d completed another practical session.

    Knowing you, I’m sure cataloguing your work will turn into a great creative project in itself. 🙂


  4. Perhaps we need to introduce the idea on CCS? To encourage people to actually see the extensive amount of work they’re creating?
    Or has it been done somewhere already?
    Your discussion encouraging a list of various ways we create is similar; we could encourage each member to make it personal/specific to their actual products in various categories, perhaps. Maybe suggest a visual organizer…(Yeh, you’re right: I’m making it into another creative project. :-))


  5. I’m sure we have at some point DJ, I can’t recall where exactly. Yes definitely a good idea to (re)introduce as a discussion on CCS.

    Taking stock of your creative achievements from time to time is always rewarding. Imagine if we somehow could recall every single creative thought and act, as well as the actual physical art we’d created. There’d be billions!


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