Wednesday, July 6, 2011

Falling off the Wagon

For the past few weeks I have been applying some of the principles from Leo Babauta's book, The Power of Less,  to my work and to my creative work. One of the main principles of his book is about focus, unitasking instead of multitasking.

This is important for us creative types I think because more often than creative block because of not enough ideas, we tend to be blocked because we have too MANY ideas floating around in our head, and our bigger challenge is to focus on enough of them to produce creative work. It's paralysis by piling on. Babauta's book, and indeed, the story of his life, is about wrestling and focusing on less to (in the long run) create and produce more, with less stress.

I was not far into the book when I was saying "sign me up for this one!"

And so I began, with tiny steps (far more sustainable), leaving e-mail off except for 2-3 times a day on the office. Breaking my day into 1-2 hour blocks and focusing on one thing that hour. Not bouncing from thing to thing. Putting aside some of my creative projects to focus on one or two of them. Reading not six books at a time, but one at a time. And to no one's surprise (but to my great joy), I found myself just where he said I would be, more productive, making more progress, stressed less and finding more joy in the work I was doing.

Late last week, I fell off the wagon. And for a few days my mind reverted back to my monkey mind self, bouncing from idea to idea. It was exhilarating, until I realized that for all the ideas ping-ponging in my head, I was accomplishing nothing.

Now, we creative types, I am told, tend to beat ourselves up over falling off the wagon. And I confess to having done the same thing. That kind of self flogging is yet another way we keep ourselves from being happily creative. We tend to be like alcoholics, thinking "I have fallen off the wagon. It's no use. I am hopelessly (fill in your own negative descriptor)"

See yourself there? I suspect some of us do. That's the inner critic, the devil himself, if you will, doing his damndest to keep us from being our powerful, productive self.

Well I made my devil a bit angry this week. I didn't beat myself up,. I didn't angst. I just got back to my better habits. I got back to meditation Sunday, after a few days off. And I pushed aside the snow shower of ideas and got back to work on what I am working on NOW. And just as simply as that, I have found myself productive again.

Now, you need to realize I am absolutely nothing special in the pantheon of creativity. I have no great willpower or insight. So If I can fall off the wagon and get back on again and again, so can you.

My hero in all this is not some great writer or artist. It's Peter of New Testament fame. That poor man fell back to his nature again and again, But through prayer and discipline (and help from the Holy Spirit, which is available to all of us, BTW) he became the great man of God that Jesus predicted he would be. Haven't read the story lately? It's worth a read for inspiration, trust me.

So, if you have fallen off the wagon, let go of it. It happens. And it's not fatal.Trust me on this one. I have at least a master's degree in not being effectively creative. And yet, I have a pretty good body of work behind me, and in front of me.

You can too.

Be blessed,


No comments: