The room of our mind decorates itself with doubt. Anxiety is a thinking problem, a challenge to contain the inner narrative that bears the footprints of our decisions.
Extreme self-belief and passion offer the antidotes to quitting. Immersed from the start, we dance with persistence when times get difficult.
Evolution is an imaginative process. As we gain exposure to the world, it becomes our oyster for exploration and experimentation.
Each creator finds their own problems and lets their identity roll. We build and sustain a system of habits to avoid wandering about in the fog. We do, however, remain changeable as we mine for secrets of the interior self.
But it’s not just the drive to begin. Finishing matters most. The world is a better place for those that ship projects out the door. Artists need feedback. “Another flaw in human character is that everybody wants to build and nobody wants to do maintenance,” once said Kurt Vonnegut.
So which is more difficult — the start or the maintenance? Both are equally important as an emphasis of action.
Life arises out of nonlife, developing as a consequence of the random workings of nature.
Similarly, creativity arises out of noncreativity. Concepts are non-existent without chance execution. All ideas are dead ideas until further movement.
Yet, it is procrastination that brings some of our best work to the forefront. Clarity emerges during idle times — thoughts coalesce in the shower, taking a walk, playing with the kids.
Focusing on something entirely different helps break down the blindness caused by closeupness. Eureka moments are therefore myth; instead, we toil and stumble toward realization.
The shadow that lies between focus and disconnection compels our actions.
Layer by layer, we keep stacking resources and exploring ways to curl the mind, and then we take periods of rest to examine the forest for the trees.
More than a bystander, we want to have skin in the game. The sidelines are for wimps.
We crave a challenge, knowing that microchips can only solve so much.
So we read and learn more, whittling down ignorance while becoming more curious.
And then we make a bold decision, knowing all too well that what’s important is usually the most neglected.
We neither search for certainty nor distract ourselves from the cause.
Instead, alone and idealistic, we put beliefs into practice and await the unpredictable. With no guarantees, possibilities are infinite.
Making progress reveals a sensation of strangeness. The slightest improvement is a built-in check upon the barriers we set ourselves.
We swaddle into fear’s arms, knowing that we may not get what we want. But at least we tried.
Never an angry young man nor an old one. Rather serious, disciplined, and honorable. We’re far better off wandering freely with the compromise of failure than itching with regret.
The mind moves toward more interesting, attractive things, but especially to those things undone. What is it about the staying power of an unfinished symphony?
The Zeigarnik effect says that we remember open tasks more so than completed ones. So we disregard the information we crammed in the night before just following the test. On the other hand, we hold on to any knowledge that may pay dividends in the future.
Work makes an indelible impression. The writer never stops writing; the painter never stops painting; the doctor never stops attending to patients. The professional always thinks about the ongoing job despite the completion of any task. There’s always something to toil on next.
The worker persists if only to think things through. What’s actionable stays top of mind. What’s unactionable remains forgettable. Everyone needs a challenge of a challenge to feel alive.
Making meaning removes meaning. The environment pulls our attention toward a finish while directing our emotions toward the incomplete. The craft is never finished, merely refreshed.
Labor — if we can call it that — begets a burning desire to be excellent and takes on the all-important freedom to fail. Professionals ride a power wave of intrinsic motivation with the ultimate result redefined.
Attraction retains a gravitational pull. What maintains attention determines the going.
The extra push acts as both a need and a vocation. What’s complete ages rapidly — it’s better to follow a direction than reach a destination.
Motivation runs fickle, cycling through ebb and flow. Grit, on the other hand, is the true game-changer. When combined with an elastic mindset, it offers impressive persistence to change out of our control.
Laziness and confusion exist in dehydrated behavioral states, an excuse to suck in the most boring parts of our lives. How, then, do we make feelings of aliveness stick?
Excitement, dreams — all life is there written for the harvest. Effort releases the uncertainty valve and compounds under the intact sky.
Practice is everything, in principle, as it builds a future very much worth getting to. But if we can’t enjoy small celebrations along the way, it’s time to refocus our attention.
Once we commit to a creative project, we make choices within it. We narrow down everything into a tight brief so we can build something conclusive.
The frames in place help guide our unconscious decisions. There’s no blur between what we’re making and what we want to make.
Slowly but surely, we commit to a process despite all the doubt. We gather a proper stream of blood flow and breathing, focusing free-flowing talent into a concentrated effort.
Distracting opportunities have to die for the most important craft to live.
We don’t need more of anything; instead, we play with what we already have. We hunker down on the front lines and figure out how to shape our materials. Boredom is welcome, as it provides the opportunity we need to have the next big idea.
And once the art is out there, it’s out there. We try not to take feedback personally — not to repress or ignore negativity — but to acknowledge we shipped!
How we perceive our work is more important than how others look at it. Society is either too polite or doesn’t care. Passion, care, sticktuitiveness — these traits are leverage.
We all know what we want. Our main challenge is in getting there.
If we take our end-destination in mind and outline the steps to reach it by working backward, the goal suddenly becomes less intimidating.
The only way to “control” the future is to steady our mentality and take immediate action. Making progress requires both urgency and patience with the process.
Mastering each step fortifies the fundamentals and strengthens our “why.” Knowing our purpose helps push us through temporary and unforeseen hurdles.
Greatness is scarce because so few people want to endure struggle. Failure is integral to the process of learning.
There are power and magic in practice. Only the indolent think they can perfect the work in theory — all talk, zero execution.
The art of pertinacity demands that we keep going — it may be the bravest thing we ever do.
Get the pen and paper out. Feel compelled to identify what we want and map out the road it takes to get there.
Stuck between the intention and the act, we often fail to carry out what we’re meant to do.
Motivation is fickle. Distractions are plentiful. Doing is not a matter of talent but discipline. Every repetition is a bicep curl for the brain.
Wrote William James in The Principles of Psychology: “This very day I have been repeating over and over to myself a verbal jingle whose mawkish silliness was the secret of its haunting power. I loathed yet could not banish it. What holds attention determines action.”
What holds attention predetermines action and protects us against the pitfalls of the next shiny object or stirred emotion.
Focus is our only guard, without all the narrowness of attention. We need to keep our eyes on the donut over the donut hole.
So we keep going, showing up despite there being no guarantee of happiness at the end of the tunnel.
Greater use of the palette insulates the individual from the dizziness of anxiety and the needless aim for the pedestal of fame.
A creative flow hardens the brain’s sticktoitiveness and summons a type of artistic unity.
We throw the rock into the hard place. The daily practice is our only durable storage.
The work doesn’t begin or end at the mercy of mood. Feeling lazy or prepared is neutral — both are non-starters. The mood’s texture remains unchanged.
Having a daily discipline is the best way to keep the shipping alive. Habits are stronger than moods.
If your emotions or conditions get in the way because you’re either unmotivated, too sick or cold, exhausted, or missing the perfect seat, you’re screwed.
Show up and ride the wave of frequency
Sitting in the chair and beginning promptly by 10 AM is non-negotiable. By sticking to a schedule, you alleviate the pain of starting while forcing yourself to dance with all the anxieties that arise.
If you get frustrated or stuck, try running out the clock. So be it — you showed up but didn’t produce.
Dissatisfaction is part of the creative process. Afterward, rest or take your thoughts for a walk to digest the reality of incompleteness. A blank canvass with even the most disappointing attempts is a refreshing experience. There is always tomorrow!
When your perspiration and dedication are the muses, the creativity always comes back because the motivation is the same. The sink keeps dripping.
Even while going about your day, discipline pays off. Deep work compounds, as the brain uses rest periods to reconvene, reconnect, and make sense of all the input.
Creativity is complicated, but moods are untrustworthy. Once you’re committed to the process while following your curiosities, there’s no wasted time.
People confuse busyness with productivity. Answering emails all day is mostly a waste of time, as is instant messaging co-workers. Doing something — typing into little boxes all day — fulfills the human desire to feel useful.
People also perceive what artists do is an unnecessary use of time. But creativity is a fancy version of productivity.
Nothing gets wasted when it comes to painting, songwriting, and any other artistic vocations. Scraps and shitty rough drafts give us something to play with. The art of gathering string — doing the hard work, heart work, and head work — expands the reality we perceive.
Sensible work gets us paid. Yet, when we photograph everything, we look at nothing.
Without propelling the imagination and practicing our craft, we’re just procrastinators and waiters. The whole point of making art is to do and ship something interesting.
“Work finally begins when the fear of doing nothing exceeds the fear of doing it badly,” advises the author Alain de Botton.
Perfection is the antithesis of inspiration — it prevents you from getting started.
The trick to getting going is to do it badly. To do that, one must be intentionally messy. The art of spontaneity asks you to start before you’re ready. Don’t over-think the process; intensify the habit of doing.
The emancipatory power in getting started helps jumpstart creativity.
Producing crap isn’t the end-goal. There is no quality without quantity — first, we get going, then we deduce.
“If I waited for perfection, I would never write a word.”Margaret Atwood
The point of taking small actions is to create enough momentum to feel like we’re winning. You’re looking to go from one pushup a day to two the next week, four thousand steps a day to five-hundred.
You’ll need to write one-hundred words day after day before developing the muscle to consistently get down two-hundred words. By the way, there is no such thing as writer’s block!
Do small things to get started — no matter how poorly — to avoid second-guessing yourself and prime the motivational pump.
Writing can be a painful activity. The idea of thinking and starting from scratch every day frightens the resistance.
But just as in exercise, the trick is in getting started.
Knowing that we can remain uncharged by the underground voltage of curiosity and enthusiasm, we have to depend on a non-thinking routine.
Showing up to practice is the number one priority. Then one writes poorly and gradually with more force, putting the bones in our words.
Discipline is a secret hidden in plain sight, only visible in the long look beyond the glance.
Swimming in impulses and doubt — remembering the possibility of revision helps tame the symphony of perfection.
Relaxed in the process, mincing and mixing words into a jigsaw puzzle of sentences holds material and belief more firmly.
We finish another day until the brain strains for another run tomorrow.
Addicted to vocation, flush with anxiety, we numb all feelings with the most adamant flow.