I think it used to be fear. It still is a huge problem, but most of us face distraction to a degree never seen before.
Like calling yourself a writer because you write, if you make stuff, you’re a creator, or an artist. That’s it! No one can tell you when you’re allowed to be one, and by opposite turn, no one will stop you from not making. Indulge in distraction too long and it’s procrastination, then blockage, and finally you aren’t a creator any more.
It isn’t always easy, but it is a simple path. The most basic identity comes from what we do, and thus what we are.
There’s a choice in your daily interaction with someone, whether they’re a stranger or friend. You can’t change what they’ll do or say. But you can choose what you assume about them when you come together. It’s easy to jump to conclusions if something goes wrong, or it seems like they said something weird.
Your reaction maybe isn’t as much in your control as you’d like, but setting yourself up for confrontation, sarcasm, or annoyance is. And before you have to react, you could just as easily assume the best of them.
Assume they have good intentions and most of the time, you’ll be right. I’m aware of the road-to-hell cliché, but I’m just talking about the very small, in-the-moment things. Times when you could be working together on a problem or even a disaster to resolve something. It seems a small or silly thing. But it puts you on a more equitable level.
We’re usually the heroes of our own stories. We’re the one in-charge, the one who knows what’s up, and it’s easy to forget most others are the same. But assuming the best of someone—that they’re trying and sincere and engaged—means a mutually beneficial result of whatever you’re doing together most of the time. Be kind. We’re in this together.
Just a reminder here—because most of us need reminding, now and again—to keep looking at everything around you. Noticing things others don’t notice is part of being an artist. You have to be able to convey a vision to the world, either an internal or a translated external one (come to think of it, inner visions have to be translated themselves).
In order to fully convey your vision to us, you need to have seen and absorbed what you’re putting down for others. You can’t do that unless you’re really good at seeing stuff.
It’ll seem too simple at first. Then, as you keep noticing and looking deeper and longer, you start to see that it’s almost infinitely complex, and you could get lost in the most mundane slice of your day. But don’t stop. The idea for your next thing comes from what you see and how much and how far you see into it.
NaNoWriMo excerpt, there’s a bunch of jargon building up in this, and I’m wary of such things. But it’s a first draft, judgment should wait:
Long abandoned by the corporate enclave founders, there were scattered opportunists who’d barricades themselves a few independent co-ops and communities, but they liked to stay isolated and wouldn’t exactly be open to a stranger and his bear, boosted or no. He knew of a small group somewhere south of the bridge that Manola had friends among, but that was it. He’d have to try to feel them out with his chatbit and see if he could get the message through a friendly wavelane.
Ahead of them, jumbled walls and the few buildings that still stood, open-eyed with glassless windows. Bluesong imagined hordes of people waiting for them, hidden behind the walls and burned out columns of temporary shelters. It was probably unlikely, he knew, but he couldn’t stop his imagination conjuring. But they were at the middle with no movement or sound from the other side. Only the slow rush of the river below them made a sound above their own feet, so he pressed on. They were just about to the other side, and Bluesong about to tell Ya-Ya he needed an access point, when the alarm sirens started pulsing behind the walls of Pearl City
I watched Spielberg’s Close Encounters of the Third Kind yesterday. I’m always struck by how carefully he set up his shots (well-deserved Oscar by cinematographer Vilmos Zsigmond), and tells the story with just enough info to go forward with, forcing you to create the missing information in your own mind.
About the Author
Marcus is a maker of things and thoughts. He currently resides in Portland, Oregon.