A few weeks ago I wrote a big piece for my blog and oh, it was wonderful. The words came so easily. I knew without thinking just how to make each transition from thought to thought. I needed to do some revision, sure, but the whole thing arrived like a fully-formed dream and got a great response from my readers. So I knew that I hadn’t been mistaken – it was good, and it was easy. The best kind of work.
Not long after that I had to write another big piece. It was hard. Every word hurt. I couldn’t get a sentence out without wanting to revise it as I wrote. I started, stopped, and started. I thought about the piece throughout the day and at night, taking messy notes on post-its by my nightstand. I asked other people to read it and give me feedback. I formed it, reformed it, and fussed.
I feared I would never make anything good ever again.
But then, finally, it was polished and actually good. This piece also got a great response from my readers. So I knew I wasn’t mistaken – it had been forged in struggle and came out great. The best kind of work.
I don’t think any reader could tell there was such a difference in the making of the work. The end result was the same. But the the second time around, I was attached to the Easy Way as my process, as How I Do Things. I was expecting ease to lead to greatness and when it wasn’t happening that way, I got flustered.
I think as artists we are often taught, or teach ourselves, to have A Way. Our Personal Process. This can serve us well. I love creating habits, for instance; they can be a shortcut to getting in the groove.
But over-attachment to a certain process, ritual, or state of mind can just lead to stuckness and resistance.
I’ve heard (and believed myself) many of these attachments over the years. Only being able to create while sad or upset. Or happy. Or only during the day or night. Only being able to work in a tidy or chaotic studio. Only when it comes easy and inspired, only when it’s a grind. Only when at my absolute best, most healthy, or most wild.
The truth is, we don’t really need any of these states to make our work.
Each moment of making is different. There’s no one perfect state or process to deliver an idea or execute a concept.
We as creatives are multifaceted, dynamic people. It’s just how we roll. So the next time something is not going how I think it should, I’m just going to try to accept that as my process for the day (not for life). I will do, and make do. And go with it.
That’s my Creative Call to Action for you:
Accept that your process is in process.
Accept that you may have multiple ways of getting to the same place. And enjoy the ride.
Are you attached to a certain process or state of mind for creating your work? Do you hold certain beliefs about when you can create and how it should feel?