i was struck recently by an NPR interview with a successful self-published author. She complained that time spent promoting her work over the internet took away valuable time from writing, and argued for the ongoing viability of paper publishing and the support system provided by the traditional publishing house.
i think we can easily relate to her complaint. we all experience the frustration of expending energy during the day on any number of activities that we wish could have been invested in our creative work. and clearly we need to stay focused and disciplined with respect to reserving quality energy and time for production. nevertheless, i think we undervalue the time spent away from the “workbench”, or perhaps we have too narrow a definition of what time at the “workbench” comprises.
creative life involves more than our daily engagement in the project at hand. it also involves, in part, our participating in the whole range of activities which enable us to keep working.
what enables us to keep working? Well – for some of us the proverbial “day job” is an important sustaining element. We struggle to reserve energy for creative work while investing the care and attention necessary to hold down bread and butter jobs until and unless the creative work can support us adequately. In the same vein, we invest time in family, friends, community, maintaining our homes. We can view all of these activities as sucking away at our ability to enter that quiet private space where we can push the project at hand forward.
But perhaps we can take a more integrated view. Perhaps we are involved in these activities because there are lessons we need to learn from them, to more fully understand ourselves, our world and our relationship to that world. Isn’t this the very matter of our creative work – our personal expression of our experience in and of the world? Perhaps, if only occasionally, we should dare to dive deeper, rather than holding back, with respect to our involvement in the “mundane” of daily life. Have you ever been pulled from a project or activity in which you were struggling with a block – only to come back from the “distraction” to discover the solution before your eyes? Maybe the distraction was not a distraction but an answer! Take your creative insight and analyze what’s going on – what might be available to you – at any particular moment of the day from which to learn, to recharge, to grow.