Over the weekend, I invited you to imagine how things would be different if you had received all the deep nurturing your child artist needed; as well as what your creative life might look like if you were old enough to no longer give a damn what anyone thinks.
(And of course, how old do you imagine that actually has to be?)
Part of our reluctance to actually commit to our creative passion is that we fear we don’t have time to get good at it. And as adults who have focused such a long, long time on being good at what we do, we often hate that feeling of starting over from scratch.
“As blocked creatives,” Julia tells us, “we like to pretend that a year or even several years is a long, long time…
“At the heart of the anorexia of artistic avoidance is the denial of process. We like to focus on having learned a skill or on having made an artwork. This attention to final form ignores the fact that creativity lies not in the done but in the doing.”
She emphasizes, however, that no creative act is every really finished. No one ever learns to act, because as an actor, you are always learning. Film directors are always redirecting their work, she confides, even years later. “You will know then what you might have done and what you will do next if you keep working. This doesn’t mean that the work accomplished is worthless. Far from it. It simply means that doing the work points the way to new and better work to be done.”
So today, I share with you what I think is one of the most powerful passages in the whole book; something that I have held dear for all these years, and something that I share all the time with my clients in the throes of change and challenge of every kind (not just artistic).
“Focused on process, our creative life retains a sense of adventure. Focused on product, the same creative life can feel foolish or barren.”
She blames our consumer-obsessed society for infecting us with the idea that art actually produces a finished product. We see our work in terms of commodity, monetary value, and we measure ourselves against standards of someone else’s commercial success and fame that are often downright absurd.
This is at the very heart of so much that blocks us from ever even starting, or that banishes our early attempts to be locked away in the basement closet. “We, as working artists,” she writes, “may want to explore a new artistic area, but we don’t see where it will get us. We wonder if it will be good for our career.
“Fixated on the need to have something to show for our labors, we often deny our curiosities. Every time we do this, we are blocked.”
Has this happened to you? Can you see where this is a possible hazard for you right now? Please share.