Criticising your creative process? No baby, no.

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I don’t want to starve for my art. I don’t want to bleed for it. And I certainly don’t want to be all judgey and perfectionistic and pseudo motivated (read: punishing) about HOW I MAKE my art.

(Note: I’ve bled for other things — men, money, ideas, deep angsty longing for communion with a god figure. I’m over it. Back to my art…)

I used to be critical about my creative process. So sad. It was part of my self-improvement affliction. Because if there’s a better way to be myself (I hope you see the humour in that), then there must also be a better way to get better at finding the best way to be...better.

This is how I used to regard my creative process:

Focus issues. Lack of patience. Too insular. Workaholic.

This is how I see my creative process now:

Focused. Swift. Centered. Turned on.

What changed? Nothing. Just my perspective. So, everything. 

FOCUSED

I thought I struggled with focus. Sometimes, mid-article,I want to wander over to Pinterest and pin lusty things on my Man, O Man board. Or I just have to text my girlfriend about that obscure song reference we heard in a movie soundtrack, or about really important things like, Is Beyonce still a vegan? I also shop online late at night for kimonos. That’s never a bad thing (because you can never have too many kimonos), but it tends to happen while I’m “working”.

I wondered if I was just easily bored, but that's not it (and BTW, I’m cynical about bored and cynical people because there’s so much to find interesting).  It’s not that I easily lose focus. It’s that I prefer to be really engaged. Luckily, this is easy to make happen: I just work on stuff that I'm passionate about in that moment — no grinding.

I also got down on myself for being distractible, but it turned out that all I really needed was…a break. I was talking to Martha Beck in my Beautiful Writer’s Group podcast and she told us that she never writes on one subject for more than an hour. That’s it! Rhythm. It’s all about creating rhythm. And rhythm requires movement — which often looks distracted — but it's movement.

SWIFT

I worship at the altar of word economy. I usually finish a painting in one or two sessions. I used to be down on myself for this. Like, if I grew up and laboured more over a book chapter or acrylic tonality, it would all have more merit. The fact is, I instinctively write and paint quickly. And it usually works out, meaning — I often get my point across in a way that’s effectual, maybe even pleasurable on a good day. I’m not in a race. I just have a lot to say.

CENTERED

I go on regular inspiration diets. I don’t read other people’s work when I’m writing my own books. I don’t want to be influenced. I want to write about my own experience in my own words. Maybe I should do more “research”, I used to think. But the only way to research your own experience is to be still....with yourself.

TURNED ON

I can go days without working but I never go long without an idea. Last week I was earring-deep in the juiciest paragraph on porn, morality, sex, and the sacred — it was GOOD, I was on a roll, I’d been ruminating on it for months. Then, my awesome kid walked in with his guitar and my work day was officially, blissfully over then and there. Because life was right in front of me, with a new chord. I pull over to the side of the road with #truthbombs to write down. I once wrote a poem on the way to a funeral. Some of my emails to girlfriends turn into blog posts. I’ve ditched deadlines for yoga and loving. I’ve worked through a business deal with pneumonia. I walked away from a big offer because I wanted to…just stay home instead. I work when I want to.

Late at night, when it’s really inconvenient, painstakingly slow, in a flurry of sexy madness... All at once. Once in awhile. In a barn, sprinting, loudly. At the kitchen table before dawn….However and whatever it takes….
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For all the tortured artists in your life…

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