Posts Tagged ‘procrastination’
I asked people to note their relationship style with their creative self in the first post of this new series. I received both public and private emails from folks identifying and asking questions about the ‘withholder’ relationship style. Let’s look more closely at some characteristics of a withholding style toward creativity. This style manifests through:
–A deeply held practice of perfectionism toward creative projects (i.e. it’s never good enough).
–A deeply held practice of procrastination toward creative projects (i.e. it’s never a good time to start).
–A deeply held practice of demeaning or being suspicious about the value of a creative life (e.g. What good is pursuing x anyway? It will never amount to anything. The marketplace won’t reward me. Or, creative pursuits are for other people, not me.)
–A deeply held practice of workaholism and busyness (i.e. I don’t have 5 minutes for myself—how can I possibly take time to start or finish x?)
–Refusing to capture insights that bubble up about what you’d like to create (e.g. This looks like a pattern of receiving creative urgings where you say to yourself ‘Yeah that’s a great idea. I’ll get to it later.’ And then you fail to record the ideas.)
–Being very uncomfortable with ambiguity in the early stages of the creative process (i.e. I have no idea where this project is going and it’s making me anxious.). To exercise our creativity often means that we don’t know what’s coming next. Many people experience anxiety during the creative process because they usually have to solve unexpected challenges that arise.
This relational style creates a context where our creative self is ignored, silenced or remains unacknowledged.
One of the first steps for developing a more loving mindset toward our creative life is to actually welcome the creative self in our imagination. Here’s one of the best and most powerful prompts for initiating a relationship with the creative self. I typically use it in my workshops on creativity. I promise that this exercise will exercise will delight and surprise you!
Adapted from Deena Metgzer’s Writing for Your Life: A Guide and Companion to the Inner Worlds:
Facing the Fear and Welcoming the Creative:
An adoptions worker is coming to your house to interview you on your capacity to adopt ‘the creative’. She will ask all the usual questions: Why do you want the creative in your house? What do you know about caring for it? How will you provide for it? How and what will you feed it? How will you deal with being awakened at 3am? How will you cope with its needs and urgencies? What will you have to relinquish to attend to it? How will you hold it? Can you sing?
Imagine the situation. Write it from the adoptions worker’s point of view or from yours, or both. Or write from the point of view of an omniscient narrator who sees and knows but does not judge. Try not to lie to the adoptions worker, either to pass the interview or to fail it!
Try 1-3 paragraphs.
I’ll post the 2nd half to this exercise later in the series.
There are times that I am convinced that I would do little to move my creative writing along without external deadlines. For many writers the inner perfectionist convinces us that our work is just not ready yet. Then we wait and agonize and wait some more. Working with writing buddies, teachers and groups are crucial to helping us move more of our writing out into the world. For the past four months, I have had the pleasure of being part of SARK’s online writing program WINS (Write It Now with SARK). She has created a delightful, nourishing online community. It has added another layer of support to my writing life.
A few weeks ago, I saw the ‘Your Life’ contest sponsored by Reader’s Digest. They requested 150 word stories about a lesson, funny moment or important vignette in one’s life. The prize is $25,000. I immediately thought, OK, I’d like to do that, but made no real plan for completion. I then saw SARK post the contest to our online forum encouraging us to apply. Some people immediately entered and posted their entries—my inner critic told me there was no point in entering—I was not going to produce as poetic a piece as others. I should have sent it on a most unpleasant task like cleaning all the toilets at the nearest airport, but I ignored it instead.
SARK also holds bimonthly calls for the WINS group and during the last call; she said she was having a hard time starting her Reader’s Digest entry. She said she had started a draft twelve times! It was so refreshing to hear a well published writer reveal a common struggle with writing. Everyone on the call, I think, registered a sigh of relief. Other people expressed that they too were having trouble starting and finishing their entries—mostly because it was not ‘perfect’. So, she asked us to make a pact with her…that we would not only finish our stories but we would post them for each other online. She asked us to press ’1′ on our phones if we were in. Without too much hesitation, I decided, yup, I’m in. We had exactly 5 days to meet the deadline. As a final word of encouragement for the contest and submitting writing to her in general (we can submit a 1500 word piece per month for her review), she told us to write “bad, uninformed, stupid, ragged, slapdash drafts!” We laughed but her message sank home and was a good reminder—to get sparking drafts, we must start somewhere in the thicket of words and not judge ourselves too harshly for it. As the days went on, SARK kept her word by posting her entry for all to see and several others followed suit. I cheered others on and even encouraged my partner to apply.Finally, I sat down to write, too. I knew I had made commitment to others to show up and follow through—an external deadline with accountability. Once I started, I realized I had given a talk years ago that held a vignette that I could rework. The piece was actually easier and more fun to write than I imagined. Creative folk need to be internally motivated to produce strong work. But we also can use contests, residency applications, calls for anthologies, and pacts made with friends as a way to burn through the twin energies of perfectionism and procrastination.
Please take a moment and check out my entry ‘The Queen of the Class Grows Up’ and vote for it if you like it. queen-cl-grows