Let’s talk about creativity and how some of us treat it like a long distance romance. You know, that feeling when you’re waiting for the perfect moment to start writing that novel or dusting off that guitar you got for your birthday? It’s a lot like waiting to meet someone in person when you’ve only ever known them mediated through a device.
But here’s the thing: sometimes, when that moment finally arrives, it’s not as magical as we imagined. We end up feeling a bit disappointed. Why does this happen? I’ve noticed two reasons, and good news, everyone! The fix is the same for both.
imagination vs reality
First off, our imagination can get carried away. When we let it run wild without grounding it in reality, it conjures up these amazing stories and expectations. Just like when you meet someone online, have a great impression of them, and then have to wait for that first in-person meeting. Your mind starts spinning exciting tales about how wonderful your time together will be in the meantime.
Similarly, when you’re super excited about a creative project but haven’t actually worked on it in a while (or maybe haven’t even started at all), your brain fantasizes about the incredible things you’ll accomplish when you finally have that big block of time to focus and let your creativity flow.
There’s nothing wrong with being free to dream. However, when the time finally comes to put pen to paper, it rarely lives up to our grand expectations. It’s like meeting that person you’ve been waiting for, and they turn out to be good company, but not exactly the sparkly being you envisioned.
And when it comes to your creative project, if you’ve taken a break after making a start, it’s hard to get back into the groove when that precious block of time finally arrives. And if you haven’t even started, it feels like you’re pushing a bus uphill, with zero creative forward motion. The hour of power you’ve built up in your mind becomes something reality just can’t deliver. It’s no wonder we end up feeling unsatisfied and disappointed with how we used that opportune space in our calendar.
the power of small talk
So, what’s the solution? It’s quite simple: regular reality checks.
If you could have a short, in-person conversation with the person of your dreams every day, it would ground your perception of them in reality. You’d have fewer chances to spin them into an unrealistic, amazing being that reality can’t compete with.
The same goes for your creative project. Have a short, daily conversation with it. If you’re writing a book, write a sentence. If you’re learning piano, schedule just 5 minutes of deliberate practice. The key is consistency—doing it every single day.
By establishing this daily practice, you not only keep your creative skills sharp, but you also overcome the second reason why that long-awaited reunion with your project falls flat: rustiness.
avoiding creative rust
When you wait for a month or two to experience someone in person, you might not feel socially rusty, but your creative skills? They can accumulate layers of rust during that time. You sit down to write and struggle to string a sentence together. You open your video editing software, and all the shortcut keys seem like some alien arrangement. You attempt to write a stand-up comedy routine but can’t remember how jokes work anymore.
And that’s for the rusty, courageous folks that actually try and breakthrough despite the rust. Many people, anticipate the rusty feeling and disappointment with reality, choose to fill that magic hour with something else entirely. It’s just too uncomfortable to face.
But by cultivating a short, daily practice, you keep your creative machinery nicely oiled. And if, by some miracle, you manage to carve out an hour for your creative pursuits in the near future, you’ll find that your creative engine is warmed up and ready to take you on a satisfying road trip with reality and imagination as your passengers.
So, how can you maintain that connection with your project? Treat it like a friendly neighbor or a housemate that you have regular contact with. Say “Hello” over a cup of tea, metaphorically speaking.
Starting doesn’t have to be a big deal. Find the thing you can’t say no to and do it today, tomorrow and everyday until you have reached your creative goal. Maybe it’s editing five minutes of that film you recorded last week, writing a single sentence for your book, or finally picking up that guitar you got for your birthday and learning how to play an A chord!
don’t wait, start today!
I hope this resonates with you and empowers you to approach your creative project not as a distant romance, but as a regular companion. By doing so, you’ll prevent your creative skills from getting rusty and continuously ground your relationship with the project in reality.
Whether you decide to strike out on your own, or seek the support of a Habitling, remember, creativity shouldn’t be reserved for some elusive perfect moment. Embrace the small steps, the daily rituals, and the consistent effort. They will fuel your creativity and lead to a more fulfilling and sustainable creative journey.
Go forth, be plucky, be jesterly,
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