Embracing abundance is all well and good, and I do my fair share of that, but when you embrace too much of it, making space becomes urgent. Especially when you are a creative soul, and there are so many creative activities that beckon.
You have to sort through all of the possibilities, for one thing, since each day is a day you could paint a landscape, sketch your left hand for practice, photograph the wintry city scene, make a video from all of your iPhone footage, write a flash fiction piece, design a new logo, redo the look of your blog, work on your screenplay, hand-letter a wonderful creativity quote, finish editing your novel, and so on. Have I missed one of your favorite pursuits?
Once you’ve nailed down that perfect thing you’re energized to tackle, you realize it’s not exactly the thing you really need to do. Sigh. Then comes the agony of choosing one, or just a few, over the many. Because as creative idea-generators, the engines are always humming with new possibilities. And determining priorities is a never-ending saga in the search for creative mecca.
Which puts space-making right on top of the priority list. There are plenty of places you need to make space:
- in your head
- in your workspace
- for your writing
- for your art
- for your creative passion of choice
- for your priorities
- and so on . . . what are yours?
When 2015 rolled around, I looked around at all of the resolutions being made and thought that mine could be summed up neatly in those two words: Make Space. Not so much a resolution as a life goal, Making Space is my way of reminding myself to set my intentions.
For me, that meant I would focus on the most critical thing each day. It meant I had to choose. I took up my favorite pen, and wrote down My Top Five. My Top Five were the creative activities I most enjoy doing. I stared at those for awhile, and then circled two. That’s because I realized that a scattered approach would never allow me to ever really triumph at any one of the five. That was hard, but I concluded it was only temporary. And that it would allow me to do the two things I really couldn’t live without: write about what’s important to me, and express myself with my photography.
What would Your Top Five look like? And what would you choose, if you could only select one or two? It’s not an easy decision, and maybe you’ve already made it (kudos to you!), but if you write them down, the top choices will bubble up.
And instead of making a bunch of lousy resolutions for the new year, I decided to set one resolution a day. I look upon that as the most important goal of the day, and indeed, it’s become that. Luckily, I’d worked that out by deciding to Create First, React Later [read HERE]. It has become the one thing that lets me settle into bed content each night, knowing I’ve done that. I called it a resolution a day in lieu of a year’s worth.
Besides, you can do anything for just one day. And it could even become a habit.
Here’s how it’s played out in just one short week, as demonstrated by my Twitter account @AustinDetails (Spoiler Alert: It’s been quite a success) and working backwards from today’s resolution. Why my Twitter account? As it turns out, when you make a commitment publicly, you’re more likely to accomplish it. There is actual scientific research for this premise.
— Jann Alexander (@AustinDetails) January 12, 2015
On the first day of the work week, Monday, my resolution was pretty effective. By noon, I could report to my breathlessly-awaiting Twitter followers: Flannery O’Connor would be proud. 1750 words by noon and ready for more after lunch.
Today’s resolution in lieu of a year’s worth was to do nothing. So naturally that means I am doing something. #2015 #incentive
— Jann Alexander (@AustinDetails) January 10, 2015
On Sunday, the day before, I gave myself a chance to do nothing. And sure enough, I ended up busy. I’d intended to read and relax and cook, and instead, my creative engine was purring along all day, even as I stirred the soup pot.
— Jann Alexander (@AustinDetails) January 9, 2015
Friday led into a great weekend, with a blog post down and 2,100 words for my long-dormant novel: Writing dialogue is hard even when it flows easily. Wordcount today: 2,100 words. Done!
January 8, 2015: What a day! My accomplishment was echoed in my happy tweet: In the Slog-It-Out dept, with 2,000 hard-to-write words now writ, I believe I deserve to pop a bottle of Cava! (I got plenty of social media reinforcement for that self-congratulatory reward.)
— Jann Alexander (@AustinDetails) January 7, 2015
When I had a chance for a photography break, I jumped on it, and delivered two gorgeous prints to a client. I felt a little thrill when I could report being “inspired by ‘Creative work first. Reactive work second.'”
To reinforce my belief in my new system, I found a blog post by Lori Schafer that gave me encouragement. Experts say this is often the best way to make good on your goals: Find positive reinforcement.
You can probably see that my concept of making a resolution for my creative day, and letting it come first on my To Do List, has been working out pretty well for me.
I’d said I would, publicly, so I did. No one else cared. Just me.
Happily, on January 4, I could boast on Twitter: 1700 words, done! This was my commitment to a novel I’d begun nearly a decade ago, and had worked on only intermittently since then. And now I had the best chance of writing the 30,000-some words it would take to see it completed. My feeling of accomplishment was amplified by my public acknowledgement to my fellow writing community that I #amwriting.
A resolution a day had suddenly become a thing I could do, a baby step on the way to the bigger picture. My day had begun with my commitment to writing, and soon I had 1,500 words. I was jazzed! This could work, I realized. My novel could finally be finished this year, and even better, I was focused on the words I was putting down, not on whether they were any good or not. So much creative output gets derailed by the worry that the work is no good. But staying true to one intention each day, the first one of the day, sets aside those fears.
When the new year dawned, and I’d felt the stirrings we all feel for a renewed commitment to our personal growth, I’d realized (perhaps instinctively) that there needed to be some kind of change to make good on my long-ago promises to myself. Abundance, and possibilities, are the constants that the optimistic mind seeks. But it is in the making of space for the realities to happen that the real magic can materialize. I believe in abundance, in possiblities, and most of all, in magic, and I want to make it happen. Don’t you? ♣