Sharing creative frustrations
I told Martin (husband) I wasn’t going to write a piece for my blog this month as not much has been happening and telling you about an average day seemed a bit boring! He said ‘Why dont you say something about your love/hate relationship with routine and how finally, aged 51, you can see that having a structure can shift your mindset from being a ‘procrastinating creative’ to someone who’s worked hard and produced a very credible book. Not sure how to take that but here goes…
Structure, routine, focus. Three words I have shied away from my entire life. I remember when I first got an office job. I made sure my commute would be at a slightly different time each day because the idea of getting the same train every morning would be just too dull. The minute life got repetitive or boring I’d change it. I’d always be up for spontaneity and delighted whenever my routine was disrupted. I never questioned, challenged or thought about it - that was just the way I was.
Many, many years later someone told me I had a creative brain. I was suprised and a little confused as I genuinely thought, as many people do, I don’t have a creative bone in my body. In my reckoning, creative types were people that could actually draw or make something - I could do neither.
So when I was writing Colleting Conversations I couldn’t understand why people would ask me ‘when is it going to be finished?’. In my mind - it would be finished when it was finished and who knew when that would be. I hadn’t thought about it, it would happen - eventually, sometime in the future. I just kept going; writing, rewrting, stopping, starting. Never once did I use the word deadline. But the longer the process went on the more of a tizz I was in. I became frustrated and confused. I needed something but I didn’t know what - and worst of all, I didn’t know what questions to ask in order to find out what it was that I needed. (I hope you’re following, it’s confusing I know!).
Then one day I went swimmimg. Inevitably breaking the routine between the monotonous lengths, I got chatting to a woman who eventually became a friend and unintentional mentor. I found myself telling her about my book and how frustrated I was but couldn’t understand why.
She asked me some questions; How long have you been writing your book? When is it out? What are your deadlines? I didnt know. ‘You can’t just weave infinitum. You’ll explode. Your mind is full of ideas yet you dont give birth to any of them, it’s like your pregnant - forever!’. You need deadlines, goals, structure and routine to get you from the start to the finish. You have to have that push or nothing will happen’.
That, was my ‘A-HA’ moment. She got me, she understood what I was trying to say and told me what I needed to do. I needed those dreaded three words in my life. Now I understood why something so simple had evaded me. I had cultivated avoiding structure in my life yet I needed it. My inner critic made an appearance - ‘Shouldn’t you know this stuff by now? Isn’t this something they teach you at school? Maybe they did, maybe you weren’t listening, maybe you were distracted - again!? For once I paid little attention to that voice because for the first time - I had clarity and a goal.
I learned a lot about myself that day. I realised that asking questions is an important part of whatever it is your doing. Questioning yourself or finding someone to ask you questions focuses you in a bit. I appreciate there are many people who already think like this but equally there must be many like me who don’t. There’s always presumptions that people know stuff. How many times have you had absolutley no idea what someone is talking about but too afraid to ask for fear of appearing stupid or not wanting to know the answer because deep down you’ve been avoiding it most of your life?
I’ve now succumbed to a daily routine, there’s some structure and order in my life. I have a timetable that I try to stick to (loosely) and as for focus, I’m working on it but I think I’m a person that will always be, forever distracted!
My advice is: Embrace the boring, write your thoughst down to clear your mind, if it’s not making sense find someone to talk it through with. Failing that, talk out loud to yourself and record it - listen back and you’ll hear clarity. Then in bit size pieces set yourself some small goals and deadlines. AND THEN DO THEM. Don’t talk about it - do it. I have met so many people bursting to the seams with ideas and consequently become frustrated because they overthink the process. Putting doubt into their work even before they get going. Small steps take you further along the path, build your confidence and prove that you are as capable as anyone.
PHEW - I’m glad I got that lot off my chest - until next time. Oh and look out for Stuart’s post on Sunday - one of my 100 men - it’s a bit fishy!