1. What are you trying to accomplish? Edit the latest piece for Phronetic and draft one more.
2. How will you get started? By reading through the latest post.
3. What is the earliest time you will finish? 0630.
4. What are your energy levels (high, medium or low)? High.
5. Visualise, in detail, what completion of this task looks and feels like. Done.
I write and answer these questions in my notebook. That’s how the first block of my morning writing begins.
I wrote out the above questions and answers about an hour ago. And right now, I feel like stopping for the day. Why? Because the words have stopped coming. In fact, the flow never began. I’ve changed the music I’m listening to. I’ve scanned my bookshelves, wondering about the things I remember from each book my eyes fixate on. I’ve got up, paced, picked out To Reach the Clouds and leafed through it, searching and finding something, just not what I was looking for.
This happens quite often. When I get thirty or forty minutes into a phase of creative drought, I get the desire to stop. To call it a day. To close Scrivener and check my email and social media accounts. Yesterday, the day before yesterday, and the day before that, I succumbed. I gave in. I was moved by the blank screen and the empty space, provoked by the anxiety and tension these things summon in me. Today, I shall not be moved.
Mainly because I’ve set myself a finishing time of 0630. I’ve made a deal with myself. I will sit here until that time has passed, even if it means that I sit, staring at a blank page, feeling my anxiety flourish. I will stay, even if I come up with nothing.
Most of the time, that’s what the creative process is. The actual moments of inspiration and creation are just a small part. The majority of the time is spent in a battle with your wits and your emotions. It is spent trying to sieve gold in the river basin, attempting to find the needle in the haystack, wandering through a barren desert searching for an oasis of moisture.
And the only way to make it through is to meet the challenge of creativity, not with anxiety, restlessness and motion, but with patience. With stillness. With a quiet assurance that if you stick around, eventually you’ll find something. Or perhaps, that something will find you.