I need a daily practice. People always talk about them right? Its the smooth groove of repetitious action which creates growth and change, ..which creates rhythm and productivity, the discipline of habit. The ease of it, knowing that each day I will clean my teeth before I got to bed, I will apply moisturizing cream before I go to bed in a last tired sweep of my face soothing and closing my face down before dropping deep down into the night …of many awakenings. I have a multiple times a day washing up practice, but I don’t think that counts. But it does prove a point, that I need pressure and incentive to perform. In that case a need for clean plates.
Blog challenges, sketchbook challenges, daily Art practice practice, its all there, but how do I find the time? There’s almost too much inspiration. Too many deliriously delicious distractions to tempt me and fill my head with colour and words.
So what’s stopping me, I know it would help, I know it has helped, I know that my precious creative work would progress better if I did, SO WHY DON’T I?
Procrastination..hmm…when I suddenly find myself cleaning the toilet on the precious day, well, morning, without kids, and taking too long to make a green smoothie and oh, just sweeping the stairs and collecting mouldy coffee cups from teen bedrooms. The hours go by and the pages wait for me. I need them but they don’t need me, so they don’t come running to look for me, that s my job. Its also my job to clean the toilet, but I can do that any time. It’s my job to keep the myriad of tendrils and shoots sprouting daily from this hydra household trimmed and orderly, and match the socks of course. BUT I DON’T HAVE TO DO IT IN MY CREATIVE TIME.
I am aware just how much I moan about time and how little I have, and while that is true…I am also aware that even as I write these words, I pause and let my eyes stray to the patch of dust next to my chest of drawers and almost, almost leap up to fetch a brush to deal with it. Its just so much easier, you see, to sweep and moan about having too much housework than sit the hell down and get my pen or paint brush out. It really is. But I don’t enjoy the feeling I get at the end of an afternoon trailing around the house tidying-when -I-need to- be-creating; its sort of full and restless and uncomfortable, like I just ate too much cheese and took no exercise. The complete opposite in fact of the luscious yummy melting tingling dancey feeling I get when I have just got that delicious harmony of words just singing together sweeter than the dawn chorus, or the hare emerging on my painting actually has a character I want to get to know, and looks like he’d jump off and hang out with me for a while. That’s a good feeling. Like drinking a mango banana smoothie with bee pollen and going to a 5 rhythms dance.
So why so difficult to get to that point. I know I’m not alone. There are self help books and articles by the oodles to guide all us procrastinators out of the thickets of coffee making, internet surfing and toilet cleaning.
I checked out the definition of procrastination according to Wikipedia and here it is:
Procrastination is the practice of carrying out less urgent tasks in preference to more urgent ones, or doing more pleasurable things in place of less pleasurable ones, and thus putting off impending tasks to a later time, sometimes to the “last minute” before the deadline. ‘
The bit that tickles me is the ‘doing more pleasurable things in place of less pleasurable…..
Why would I prefer cleaning the lav to painting?
A little while ago I received a free gift of ‘The War of Art’ by Steven Pressfield, and it shocked my eyes wide open. If you write, paint, play music, create beautiful woven tapestries or create needle felted farm animals and this is your calling…read this book…if you find it hard to get to your desk, easel, loom in the mornings…read this book. If you find yourself saying..oh I’ll start tomorrow, when I have enough money in the bank, when I ditch my partner, when I have more time….read this book.
Well he calls it Resistance…that’s what’s going on. According to Pressfield the higher and more urgent and important to us that our calling or work is, the greater the resistance to it will be.
‘Resistance only obstructs movement from a lower to a higher sphere, it kicks in when we seek to pursue a calling in the arts, launch an innovative enterprise…evolve to a higher station….’
So it obstructs me painting when I am scrubbing shit. Resistance wants me in the bathroom. So I have to be stronger.
And its true…the more important I know something to be to be, the greater the pull away I feel. So much so that sometimes, when I get that ‘aha’ moment I will physically rise from my desk and walk away, because its just too much. Too scarey. Its scarey to have power to know I could be big, to know I have it in me to be a success at what I do, and inspire others while I do it. Its big and its easier to walk away and eat a biscuit.
Pressfield goes on to talk about trouble…accidents, lateness getting into trouble, creating drama as forms of resistance. Which got me thinking …..there have been some big events in my life, I move house alot, I have a broken marriage, my car breaks down alot, technology can sometimes ‘not work’ for me. Now maybe I’m taking this a bit too far but its something to think about. All these things take up huge amounts of time….like reading this post is for you no doubt, I’ve just crossed the 1000 word barrier, so back to daily practice.
I know I need to write and paint and create, and so I will….
…..give myself some outer limits for pottering, ie ten minutes max to create some sort of vague order around my work station, then a deadline and a time limit.
…..not need to make three hot drinks and a smoothie before I start, a cup of tea is permissible.
…..write an affirmation to pin to my mirror along the lines of…’I shine when I create, I am an artist..’
…..make sure I get some ‘being’ time. Because all this mothering, homeedding, multitasking, breastfeeding and creating can drain every ounce of energy and inspiration out of me, and just sitting, or taking a walk, or even sleeping…can be pretty useful to the process too!!
I’ve joined a daily art challenge, online, so I am accounted for, and I am committing, TODAY to you and more importantly to myself, to write for at least 30 minutes a day….and that is a challenge. No matter if its by head torch with match stick propped eyes at midnight, or standing at the kitchen counter chopping onions with my teeth, or sneaking an extra few minutes in the bathroom…I will do it. And I’ll try not to use so many capitals next time.
So how about you…what are your daily practices and how do you fight resistance and procrastination to achieve them. I need tips!!