How time passes my friends!
And, my oh my, do I have a lot that I want to talk about with you.
I had planned to post about productivity this week (what does it mean, how do we persist etc.), but I am going to interject for a brief moment and hopefully share the planned post within the next few days– it is worth noting that I wrote myself into a bit of a corner and now I must find a way to form a coherent train of thought.
Let’s jump to it, shall we?
First, will you forgive my use of a short complaint as the introduction? Do you remember those spinning teacup/pot rides at carnivals? They feel like a good illustration for the last week, or two, of my life. I have been relatively unproductive; I have a tendency to jump between projects with a few hundred words here and a few more there without entirely focusing. Frankly, it is frustrating.
Regarding many of the conversations that have spread throughout the household since the beginning of the year, I suspect that I am not the only one. Focus is often a hard thing to catch; you lay your tuna-sandwhich traps out and build gingerbread houses, maybe you become desperate enough that you decide to dress up like a saguaro cactus, or hide in the henhouse with a rusted shovel.
In my experience, a lack of focus can create whirlpools of feeling like you will never be able to work again; the small successes that arise can often feel irrelevant or ‘not good enough.’ Of course, that is preposterous, but sometimes it is hard to remind yourself of such things.
It is not easy to pull oneself out of disparaging thoughts, but it is certainly not impossible: yesterday, my parents reminded me of the importance of stepping back and giving yourself a break. I know that it sounds contradictory to success, but everyone needs time to think.
As mentioned by my parents: in The Artist’s Way, Julia Cameron talks about having an “artist date” every week; essentially, it is a block of time that is set aside to meander or do something that will help you to recharge. It could consist of reading for an entire afternoon, going on a walk somewhere that you do not typically visit; maybe you prefer to meander through library shelves, or spend hours testing pens in a small shop tucked against the sidewalk.
Despite its contradictory nature, sometimes stepping back is the way to get more things done. It is easy to become wrapped up in our doubts and fears, but they only lead us deeper. I think there is a common misconception that we must always be busy, that sitting still is often not a viable use of time, but wondering always is. Taking time to review your surroundings and goals is always important.
Stepping back from your work is a way to gain prospective: we become wrapped around certain facets of our lives so closely that we forget what truly matters, and we forget to find ways to inspire ourselves every week. Cars run out of gas, and so do we… Of course, I, at least, will not assume that prospective is an easy thing to discover. We have to chase it; and, sometimes, that means we must let go of our worries about rushing forward.
How long you should step back for is, I think, entirely based off of the way that you function. My amateur advice is this: start with a short duration of time. Let one day slide; do not worry about how much you are accomplishing until you wake the next morning. When the sun rises, begin with some sort of tradition; find something to help you settle: choose a favorite piece of music, make a cup of something hot, or wear your favorite sweater.
Settle down in your chair (or couch, or bed, or tree trunk) and start slowly. Begin with something. Do not worry about your grammar or punctuation. Let yourself babble for a moment; write something that is for your eyes; something that does not need to be perfect or appropriate. Letting yourself run free for a moment can be an excellent way to pull yourself out of the bogs and back into your work.
I am curious to hear about your own experiences: what works for you? What does not?
Until next time, my friends! (And I promise that it will be relatively soon.)
Oh, and Happy Pi Day!