Although we don’t necessarily have a detailed plan of the next dozen creative projects we’ll embark on (let alone how they’ll turn out), we can develop a pretty reliable compass to guide us in how important any one project is.
Or, to put it another way, when we let ourselves become still enough to listen, we can tell the difference between which projects are the ones we really long to immerse ourselves in, and those we’re creating just for the sake of creating. Or creating to avoid creating the important ones.
Ultimately there is no hiding from the work.
We can try to kid ourselves that we don’t know what to create next, or trick ourselves by creating work with much less meaning and pretending it means more, but at some point we just need to drop the theatrics, show up, and do the work.
I chose writing – or maybe writing chose me – as a way to help me do more of the important work, and to have as few excuses as possible to parade before my eyes and be distracted by, before I just get on with laying down beautiful new clusters of words.
To write, I need… a pen and some paper.
Or, more commonly, a phone to jot down and save notes to myself.
Either way, I have a way of capturing words and ideas with me almost constantly. And even in the few moments when I don’t – like in the shower – I’ve learned how to remember enough detail to preserve an idea until I can reach for a notebook.
(Or occasionally, a poem fragment or article idea is scrawled across a steamy bathroom mirror!)
Lately, photography has been choosing me too, for similar reasons.
I need… my camera.
To create virtually anything and everything I’ve created in the last few years, my equipment has been minimal.
Pen, paper, phone, camera, laptop.
If I carried my laptop around with me more, it’d be just the laptop and camera.
There’s nowhere, and no way, for me to hide from creating what I need to create, what I’m passionate about creating.
I can’t ever try to claim to myself that I don’t have the right equipment, or the time and space and energy to set it up.
So I must create.
Needing so little gives not only me an immense freedom, but a great motivation and discipline too.
What do you do to ensure you have as few excuses as possible between you and your work?
How often do you hear yourself saying you don’t have the right equipment, or enough materials, or the time to set them up, as reasons not to create?
No-one else is going to create what you need to create. No-one else could if they wanted to. Only you.
So it’s up to you to develop ways to show up and create. Or, following the thread of this conversation, it’s up to you to reduce, if not entirely eliminate, all the ways you hide from doing the work.
Though I’ve painted, composed music, made short films, and experimented with altered books, to name a few examples, I know if I considered these as my primary creative medium, I would find too many excuses to hide behind.
So I need the simplicity and immediacy of writing and photography.
In a similar way, I choose yoga and tai chi as exercise and meditation techniques, for my daily morning practice.
If I decided I wanted to stay fit using a multi gym or other complex fitness equipment, I’d either have to invest in a gym membership, or create a home gym. Neither of which appeals, and both of which would add layers of complications and possible reasons to not use them.
So each morning I do yoga, tai chi, press ups and meditate.
I need one piece of equipment, that’s incredibly portable – a yoga mat. It means I can’t avoid the work.
It’s the reason I’ve had a daily practice built around yoga for the last 430 days and counting.
How can you give yourself the shortest route to the important work you need to, and want to, and can’t wait to, create?
Try this – List all the ways you hide from the work. Be as honest as you possibly can. Write everything down.
Then pick the one that has most impact, and that causes you to avoid creating most. Use your creativity to find a way around it. Just this one way you hide.
Lessening the impact of this single way you hide from creating will have a huge effect on your overall creativity. The momentum will build.
You won’t be hiding anymore, you’ll be leaping through the streets in jubilant song, telling the world about your art. And we’ll be listening and cheering you along the way.
Stop hiding. It’s time.
Thank you for reading. Please share these words. Subscribe for free updates.