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Discovering a Sense of Momentum

“Creativity thrives on small, do-able actions. This week dismantles procrastination as a major creative block. The key to a creative life is sustained, consistent, positive action. This is possible for all of us.”

(I’ll have to take your word for it, Julia.)

Inertia is a harsh mistress.

Ever notice how easy it is to keep going once you’re moving? And how difficult it is to start moving once you’re stopped?

That’s our good ‘ol friend Inertia at work. She’s a temperamental beast, that Inertia. But at least she always plays by the same rules so we know what to expect.

I’m looking forward to digging into this week’s chapter. It is exactly what I need right now. Procrastination and blockage have my logjam in an uproar. And that’s not a euphemism.

I’ve been overwhelming myself with doing nothing. The nothing builds and builds until it’s this unwieldy beast gnashing at my throat. Time to defang the monster, as I like to say.

When I’m engaged in a creative project, I tend to jump in with both feet, work like mad, become deliriously inspired (operative word being “delirious”), not sleep for a week, burn out, and abandon the project wholesale.

As a wise friend always asks me, “How’s that working for you?”

(Okay, you got me — it’s Dr. Phil.)

Apparently this week we’re going to learn how to appreciate baby steps as a method of overcoming that paralyzing overwhelm and practice sustained moderation in our art. Sign me up.

Task: Easy Does it, but Do It

“Most of us have many small areas where we could benefit from a little housekeeping. List five areas you could neaten up. What we are after with this task is the experience of using stuck energy in a productive way, however small. “

This task may not be the best advice for me since I just moved and at least one of the rooms and one of the closets (because I have more than one of each now!!!) are still in a state of disarray. More accurately, it looks like a bomb went off. But I’ve been working non-stop at settling in.

What I need is to do something other than housekeeping. Especially since I have OCD and once I start cleaning I’ll come to nine hours later, aligning the carpet fibers so they all face the same direction.

So I got out my folder of snippets and went to work making my previous journal’s table of contents (example below).

I compulsively gather out-of-context magazine quotes and headlines, as well as directionals from boxes and other found words. I’ve been doing this for as long as I can remember, and no magazine is safe around me when I’ve got an x-acto knife in one hand and rubber cement in the other. I have stacks and stacks of torn out phrases like “it’s spring, do you know where your bloomers are?” and “Unblock your head.”

This is one of my all-time favorites:

I sat down at my awesome new table in my new crafty nest (I’ve decided to call it The Situation Room, which I heard used in an espionage film last week). I dug through the piles of quotes, searching for ones that captured each section of my last journal. “Rejoice and recharge.” “Things that shine.” “Spread some sparkle.” “Stop talking, start DOING.”

The sorting itself was a beautifully Zen process. When I’d finally chosen my handful of quotes, I went to work cementing them down and drawing the TOC. It was so much fun, and it’s been a long time since I got my hands dirty.

Strangely, when I stepped away from my little completed project, I got in front of my computer and wrote two blog posts, a BIG DIG email, and a few notes for the upcoming week’s Artist Date.

Absolutely bonkers, since I’ve only opened blank Word documents lately if forced at gunpoint.

That Julia, she is just full of useable wisdom.

It reminds me of that little blind spot we all have in our eyes — how sometimes you physically cannot see something by looking directly at it. You have to look away, focus on something else, and your peripheral vision picks up the missing information.

Creativity is like that. Sometimes you can’t look directly at your project, especially if it’s bugging you. You have to indulge in some other activity, absorb yourself elsewhere, in order to move it forward.

So go polish your shoes and put your receipts in order. I’m off to arrange some carpet fibers.

5 comments

  1. Thank you. Especially for this part: “I’ve been overwhelming myself with doing nothing. The nothing builds and builds until it’s this unwieldy beast gnashing at my throat. Time to defang the monster, as I like to say. ” This happens to me all the time, and I thought it was just me! (I know, I don’t know how I managed to believe this, but I did.) So much of what you wrote here resonated with me so deeply I think my ears are ringing with it. I think I do actually need to read Walking in this World.

  2. Another great post, what a lucky day! I’ve been sooo curious about your TOC since I first read about it, and now I got a little peak of your process – what fun! I’ve made one for mine too with cut out quotes but not a real TOC with page numbers, just cut out headlines that I thought fit into my life right now. Will have to blog about the diary TOC soon too!

    So glad you’re writing again, keep it coming!

  3. the dog tale in the big dig made me =(
    I think I would have had to dive in and get the bunny (and I dont swim)

  4. I agree with Kimberley. If it were my dog, I would’ve felt bad and gone to get that stupid, sad little bunny. LOL

  5. I like your TOC. I also leave several pages blank in the beginning and end of each journal for both a table of contents and an index. A year or so ago I also started tagging important parts with small sticky notes telling or naming the issue or situation I had journaled about. This way I can easily see where I want to go in my WIP which is making my journal public writing. I have been using my journal as I write my memoir or personal essays. The rereading is the hardest. It seems I don’t like reliving things as well as I thought I would. Especially not the painful parts. But for those of you who want an easy way to index, use sticky notes.

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