Lolita, our mature yet still ravishing Composer of Art for Music, is definitely the competitive type. Suggest to her that she may not be keeping up productively, or creatively, with her colleagues, and you light a fire best admired from a safe distance. She has learned to tap into this powerful source of motivation. But benefiting from the sagacity of Deuce the Spaniel Muse, she has also learned to temper that competititve drive and spirit so it does not devour her.
Part of what Lolita values in her daily process is the connection to creative thought, and thereby with the Creator, and the translation of that thought, step by baby step, into physical, concrete expression. Like the best meat stews that Deuce creates, the magic comes from the hour of simmering. Their is no rushing a good stew, and in important ways there is no rushing good art.
Nevertheless, allowing ourselves the simple satisfaction of having engaged, once more, in that day’s wrestling match, and having in fact moved our project forward a bit – giving ourselves that daily pat, on the back proves to be more difficult than expected.
Why is that?
Well – to be sure – if you are starving and relying on the sale of your next painting, and that next painting is still in process – well – admittedly – acknowledging a good day’s work versus a ready for sale project is something of a challenge. Sometimes there is an element of momentum – we have generated excitement about our work, our website, our blog – and maintaining that excitement probably involves at least in part producing timely a steady stream of new work. As a composer, Lolita is part of an online community of composers. She sees in that community not just talent – but truly prolific talent. Not only are these guys posting awesome stuff, but they are posting a lot of stuff. She wants, she needs, to be one of the players. So the ego kicks in – she should be able to produce like that also. The ego is a real driver, putting on the pressure from the inside while a certain amount of community pressure is felt from outside – all of which is a drumbeat pounding: “Produce more, and better, and NOW!”
Each of us, of course, needs to monitor how these internal and external pressures bear upon our creative work – for the better or not. Some of us thrive on competition and realize our best work in a competitive environment. Some of us do our best work when it grows out of the balance we work to achieve in our lives. Most of us are some combination of the above and other drivers.
Find your motivations and your drivers. Understand how your creative clock ticks. Be sensitive to the conditions which foster your best work. Recognize that occasionally producing your best work may take back seat to external demands for faster project turnarounds. Tuning in this way to the externals and internals may prove a powerful recipe for effective engagement in your daily creative process.