21 October 2011

Creative Paralysis

Last weekend I was feeling overwhelmed with too many projects, deadlines for shows, my workspace cluttered and confusing, other demands on my time. I know that when this becomes unbearable, I become paralyzed with not knowing where to start, what to put aside and often just wondering where the heck is everything I need to get started?

So much you want to accomplish but so little time . . . sigh.

And then that growing stagnation, that feeling of why bother? begins to take hold.  Did you hear that?  That was the sound of your creative life coming to a screeching halt, of slamming into the wall of despair.  This happens in my work life, too -- budgets, grant deadlines, building projects, keeping up with technology -- the list goes on and on.

What to do?

We've all heard it -- the whole is the sum of the parts, but sometimes there are just too many parts, and they tend to scatter like a herd of kittens.  The solution is not to be overwhelmed by the big picture but to deal with the parts one at a time.  Not easy to do in this society that thrives on multi-tasking, is it?

So back to basics, back to dealing with the one part, to distill all the lists to one element that is conquerable, do-able now, today, this minute, this hour.

Just do one thing today, just one thing that will help your art, your passion.

Just do one thing that will take no more than an hour, preferably less.

One thing, no matter how small or insignificant, that you can point to when done and say it is done.



And when you've finished, you will write that one accomplishment down and feel good about it.

And tomorrow you will start again -- just one thing.

And as the days go by, these one things will add up so that by the weekend you will not feel as stressed to get ALL things done because you've accrued these little one things all week, a kind of creative savings account.

And you can feel good about that.

Two books I recommend are:

Twyla Tharp's The Creative Habit
Eric Maisel's Fearless Creating


Jo Murray said...

Such a thoughtful post, and excellent advice. Thanks.

Kelly M. said...

Something has to give, right? Otherwise, we may as well throw in the towel. Thanks for stopping by, Jo!