As my daily round brings me back to the first Wednesday of the month, I find that the post I intended to write has evolved. Originally I wanted to discuss writing conferences, since the RT Booklovers Convention is here in Chicago this year. While that is a fabulous thing and I’ll write about it in other places, today I wanted to downshift and return to home base. It’s easy to forget, in all the fuss and bother, that the daily round is a daily round, not a line, and that the things we thought completed come around again and again. And not just laundry or dishes.
I’ve been working with Julia Cameron’s book Finding Water: The Art of Perseverance and find that, as is usual for Cameron’s work, many of her ideas resonate with me. In particular, one passage jumped off the page at me: “I must write. I must walk. I must pray. I must content myself with small amounts of progress. Above all, I must not binge on drama and despair.”*
As I talk with other writers and creative people, I find that many of the folks who I talk to assume that creatives must be able to do what they do just because of who they are, because they are creative, and not because of concrete, grounding behaviors that they must invest effort, time and care on an ongoing basis. In addition, the thought process seems to progress to the idea that if we, ourselves, cannot do that kind of thing – prodigious art creation without any real grounding – then we must not be “real” artists.
This couldn’t be farther from the truth. Regular creative output is like any other kind of output, be it legal briefs, laying bricks, or cooking and cleaning for a family of adults and children and pets. It takes energy, effort, and consistency; it also requires rest and recharge for the creator unless one wants to have an ugly breakdown. And sometimes, despite our best efforts, we end up at breakdown anyway.
What is the lesson there?
I think it’s just as Cameron says, above. There are several simple things that, done daily, help us stay on track. It’s like Curly says in the movie City Slickers: you have to find your One Thing (see below). You have to respect your own process enough to know what works for you, and if you don’t know, then you need to find it. I suspect, though, that you probably already know a few of them: get enough sleep, eat clean, write daily, etc. Whatever your “things” are, respect them and do them. It’s the only way I know of to get to where you’re going.
*Finding Water: The Art of Perseverance, by Julia Cameron; Jeremy P. Tarcher/Penguin, New York; 2006; page 40