Fearless Creating by Eric Maisel

continued from here

Belligerent Commitment, Starting Your Work, Chapter 3

This whole chapter deals with STARTING an artwork. The author analyses the process of starting in details and I find his observing and suggestions interesting, useful and truthful.

An artist may have an idea/s or might not but there is time to start to work. However, starting can be accompanied by weakened-mind anxiety and it’s physical and mental consequences: fatigue, heaviness, a fog in the brain, depression, apathy, boredom, emptiness, dullness. His mind and will to create might weakened in the face of the difficulties he believes will engulf him if and when he starts. Because creating requires active aloneness, a lot of choosing, thinking, mistakes, failings…

The rest of the chapter is about strategies how to overcome this anxiety:
1. Saying YES or NO to the work, not MAYBE
2. Getting used to aloneness (an artist needs to be alone in order to be able to hush and hold)
3. Committing to the work belligerently. Not modestly, not defeated, not with his first long break already in mind, but starting to work with energy and continuing to work with energy.
I especially like the following idea: “Commitment means a commitment to take the extra time needed to make the work right, insofar as it can be made right, even if one has invested much time in it already.”
4. Being able to identify the split second each day when an artist says No or Yes to the work. And learning to say YES.
5. Making that short walk from where/when he makes a decision to work to an actual workplace. “If affirming the “yes” was the most important split second of your life, this walk is the most important short journey of your life.”
6. Once at the workplace, getting into trance of working. The better an artist has followed steps 1-5 the easier this step will be for him: he has been hushing, holding his wish to create/nurturing an idea he is going to work at, he has said YES to work and has gotten to a workplace.

Aren’t we all familiar with this? We wish to create, we have this need to create. And now we even have time to create. But shall we start now? Not after a cup of tea/checking e-mails/ checking that interesting link/our dashboard/the weather forecast or after looking out of the window for a while? Because if we are to start now it means we have to e.g., clear the kitchen to have a space to work, to gather all materials needed, to start somewhere where you got stuck last time, …
Some time ago I discovered where my “important split second” is: most of the time it is when I have to take the sewing machine from the corner of the kitchen and put it on the dining table (no other place to create at the moment). It takes about a minute or two but I can’t tell you enough how it irritates me that I just can’t have it (plus work in progress) at one place all the time:1. because we need the table for eating, 2. because of the little fingers in the house who have access to this room (of course).
But since I know about this little demon I can defeat him easier and if I do there is nothing else which would put me off the starting.
I can only work when my daughter/s are asleep. I know that if I don’t use this time there will be no other time during a day. Which is very helpful in a way; it is clear. Till my time comes I hold my wish to create – thinking about it, in steps, trying to gather materials and tools at one place.


One thought on “Fearless Creating by Eric Maisel

  1. an interesting book , I thought about my strategies to start a work of art and it’s most of the time paired with some emotional crisis, a deep feeling ………
    I get back to you soon
    but first I have to read your synopsis of chapter I and II.

    when my children were small-they are now teens and I create when they are in school in the mornings- I worked in the evenings/nights in our bedroom where I had a small table just big enough for my sewing machine, which was more lonesome and quiet, I was tired too and had often problems to keep focused, but I created a lot, just for fun and for me.


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