Tagged self-reflection

Taking a Sick Day, but Nah

When I was little, a sick day meant I stayed in bed and slept as much as possible. It seemed like it was all or nothing, either incapacitated and miserable or some sniffles. I’m still incapacitated now and then, but most days I’m sick I can still work or do things around the apartment. Just more slowly and painfully.

It’s worth working on your thing, whatever it is, and if that involves a studio across town, maybe it’s sketch time or a writing session. Getting something created, something made, feeds into the deep satisfaction and fulfillment we’re cultivating. It’s not medicine, but it will help you feel better.

Miss and a Swing, the New Year Gets Busy

Rather, I got busy, with a changing schedule that finally caught up with me post-holidays. So I missed a daily post yesterday after a rare night shift. But that’s as may be. Life isn’t a factory where you set up processes and systems and they run on a timetable. Bits of it, maybe, but not everything.

Your art is the same. You’ve got goals, ideals, and maybe you’ve made resolutions to create more stuff in the new year. And—maybe—you’ve stumbled or missed. It’s okay. This is a year to be kinder to yourself about your work.

One of my goals in 2019 is to gently encourage, rather than berate, myself about mistakes and dropping various balls. Positive reinforcement is a hedge against so much toxicity and anger out there beyond your skin. C’mon. It’s time to be your own kindest critic, at least for a while.

Keep Taking Time to Check In With Yourself

We need time to think. Time to ponder and choose directions. It’s easy to put on earbuds and get lost in sound, or binge a few series in our off time from work.

But you’ll benefit for knowing where you want to go next, both in life and your work. And you can’t hear your own thoughts about that if you don’t just sit with them, alone. I used to do this on drives, my commute was 30–45 minutes. Now that it’s 15 minutes at most, often shorter on the bus, I do it while walking. Doesn’t have to be a big thing, but it’s good to have a direction and finalized decision-making.

Maybe Repetition Is the Way Forward When Nothing Comes to Mind

Think of it like a generic writing practice: we’re told that we just need to keep writing. If that means writing the word “solo” over and over, so be it.

But that doesn’t last long. Thoughts come. Ideas meander. You feel like writing them down. It’s the same in other media. You can only doodle or play a C7 so many times before you’ll think how to change it. And that’s moving forward.

A Path Forged in Real Time, a Ford to Come

NaNoWriMo excerpt, and this is slow going, folks:

Somehow, he’d need to get within range of an open localnet node and send a message to Manola. She’d know what to do, and maybe she could help find out what had happened to his life since this morning, when he’d thought everything was still normal. He tried not to think about the growing possibility it would never be so again.

Into Every Artist a Little Self-Absorption Must Fall, So You Can See More Clearly When It Has Gone

If you’re struggling with making stuff, and most of us do, a lot, try doing nothing about it while you consider why it’s happening and what you want.

If you don’t know what you want, it’s hard to create from unknown ground. You don’t know where you want to go, so you end up wandering, and that can last years.

Easier to decide something—anything—and work from that. It’s so easy to forget! We. Can. Always. Change. Our. Minds.

Hang One or Two of the Favorite of Your Own Work to See Its Best and Worst

If you’re a painter or calligrapher, say, this is an easy one to practice. If you’re a musician or dancer, it’s harder. But there are ways to keep looking at your stuff, even if it’s a song or a performance.

You’re not doing this to leave a work in place forever. You’re doing a little study. It’s a personal gallery visit, and the assignment is to analyze this one work. It just happens to be yours, this time.

What you’re looking for is anything that keeps the work from being perfect and anything that helps it along the way. That’s a little hyperbolic–nothing is perfect—but perfection should be striven for, not achieved. And it’s nebulous: the main thing is how closely it came to the vision in your head. But you need some perspective, a little objectivity, a little time for it to breathe and live before you can see the little things.

You already probably see the mistakes you made and other choices you thought about but didn’t implement. Next time you’ll know they could have helped improve it, and some things to keep that went well.

This approach works better if you have just a little difficulty or a slight embarrassment when examining your own work than if you either want to puke from thinking it’s terrible or you think it’s brilliant, but I think those cases are rare.

More often, the art you made took a long time and you’ve spent hours, days, or weeks getting it honed, chopping it into shape. You know it well. You also can overlook the obvious.

So as you make more things, keep a fresh one handy to listen to or look at to see it as plainly as you can, to learn one more lesson from a finished thing.