I can’t believe it is already February! Every year I start off January 1st with big plans to reinvent the new year, organize my studio (and life), weed out my closet, clean up my diet and streamline my business. Yet before I know it, January has passed and I am already running behind. At this the point, I usually blame myself for not “starting off the year right” and worry that I won’t check off everything on my to-do list. I was recently listening to a Tim Ferriss interview with Edward Norton and at the end of the episode Tim paraphrased a quote by George Bernard Shaw: “You don’t find yourself, you create yourself one small step at a time”. It was the “one small step at a time” that stood out to me. I am notorious for planning wide reaching goals and then hitting a wall when I am set to begin. I overwhelm myself with the perceived enormity of the task and find myself easily distracted. The idea of taking one small step at a time and thinking only of what is directly ahead not only allows for greater flexibility, but breaks down the process of creation into small manageable tasks.
I just finished reading Elizabeth Gilbert’s book “Big Magic”, in which she discussed the idea of curiosity as the guiding light for creative endeavors. “Curiosity is the truth and the way of creative living….Curiosity is what keeps you working steadily, while hotter emotions may come or go.” The notion of creativity as the pursuit of curiosity takes all the pressure off. It reframes the idea of creativity, not as a means to an end, but rather as a continuous journey of discovery. If a current project is not going as planned, there is always the prospect of what lies ahead waiting to be uncovered in the future. Nothing is so precious that is that can’t be improved upon with a little whimsy.
“What you produce is not necessarily always sacred…What is sacred, is the time you spend working on the project, and what that time does to expand your imagination, as what that expanded imagination does to transform your life. The more lightly you can pass that time, the brighter your existence becomes.” -Elizabeth Gilbert, Big Magic
My take-away is to not be to hard on yourself. Creation is not meant to be a chore or a line item on a to-do list. I have found the enemies of a creative mindset to be: guilt, frustration, impatience and anxiety. It is ok to let yourself off the hook and create a space where imagination can exist and grown. Allow yourself to take one step at a time and discover where your interests and curiosity will lead you. You may not end up where you had planned or hoped, but maybe that is the point. As Elizabeth Gilbert (and many others have said) it is the time spent in pursuit of an idea that can make all the difference. This year I aspire to take a look at my own work and follow those areas of interest that most inspire curiosity and wonder.