Keep Going, Austin Kleon's book subtitled “10 Ways to Stay Creative In Good Times and Bad” is a creative's must-read. I found this book hugely helpful when stuck, and in the past bought extra copies to share with other creatives who struggle with “keeping it going.” About three times each year I've been re-reading it over 7-10 days for my nudge-needs. Highly recommend it to help anyone with their creative crisis or for inspiration. From the book's dust jacket flap:
The creative life is not a linear journey to a finish line, it’s a loop—so find a daily routine, because today is the only day that matters. Disconnect from the world to connect with yourself—sometimes you just have to switch into airplane mode. – Austin Kleon
I finally sold my camper van this week. Why is that significant to share? Because, in my mind (erroneously), I’ve seen this event metaphorically as a boulder (bison?) in my path. Rather than the obvious “just walk around it,” I’ve let it become an obstacle. Journaled too many times about how transitioning from van life to studio life would allow oodles of morning time to write in “airplane mode” (and yet the boulder remained). I let myself believe freedom from van tasks, responsibilities, and expenses was a viable excuse to delay consistent morning writing time until the van sold.
Truth is, I’ve always been a creative procrastinator, employing the “not organized yet” device to delay doing things. And in this case, organized includes space, setting, tools, and freedom from enormous obstacles (ala the van). So here I am today, finally past the boulder that drove off into the west sunset Wednesday. And surprise! Not yet fulfilling my prophecy of “When I... I will…..”
So what’s the problem now?
Maybe it’s an empty-nester emotional void from no longer having an object and a way of life that consumed much of my focus over the past two years. Or maybe it’s the newfound idleness of a lot more time on my hands and the freedom of diddling (the honeymoon effect). Or, hey, perhaps because IT WAS NEVER ABOUT THE OBSTACLE, whatever the obstacle du jour was.
This isn’t a writer’s block tale, something I’ve never had an issue with. I have the opposite bane: writer’s overload, or the struggle to rein in ideas and verbosity to get to something simpler, clearer, and more intellectually digestible. And the organization of my studio, tools, reference library, freedom to carve out whole half days to write, etc., are not obstacles either.
There has been opportunity lately with expanding my self-care routines and programs. That part of my three-legged essential stool (self-care, sketching, writing) is enjoying the increased focus. Even started working with a yoga/fitness personal trainer to notch up my seriousness. Yet still stymied on the big morning block-of-time to go hog wild writing, as planned. I’ll get it going, I’m sure. And will try not to whine about it here, instead staying grateful for my privilege of having the setup and freedom to pursue this.
Relying on craft and routine is a lot less sexy than being an artistic genius. But it is an excellent strategy for not going insane. – Christoph Niemann