a simple committment
For the past few months I've been one of a group of artists responding to questions and ideas emailed out by author and therapist Eric Maisel
, who concerns himself with issues of creativity. In his most recent post he introduced several elements that he feels are basic to creative practice. The first of these is simplicity--not in the sense that the creative process is simple--far from it! Nor is the end result of most creative work simple. What he's referring to is a clear, straightforward committment to oneself and one's work. Although I don't always agree with Eric's points of view, I'm with him on this one. It strikes me that a simple statement of committment to one's work cuts through mountains of procrastination, excuses and rationalizations. It really is
simple, you either do this or you don't. Some people must overcome large obstacles to meet that committment, but the clear intention is the same driving force for everyone.
I also thought about the various forms this intention can take. For some people it means committing to working in the studio every day--this in fact is the conventional advice--that you should always work even when not feeling so inclined. In my own experience, though, I don't find this is right for me. There are definitely times in the studio that I can see I'm doing more harm than good. I'm not in tune with my work--I'm tired or distracted or just burned out. I believe that part of the creative process is time to rejuvenate, and also time to incubate ideas. When I recognize that I'm "off" in the creative sense I do take a little time off. Maybe a day, maybe more. When I return, I'm always much more productive and focused.
So the "simple" committment might not be as simple as "I will paint every day." For me it's more like this: "I will do the best work I can." Without getting too specific, that means committments of time, energy and thought, and no excuses.