Getting Back to the Process

Wednesday, January 8, 2014

I've been writing this post in my head for over a week now:

It's about moving worth away from material successes - finishing a manuscript, getting the job you wanted - and finding that worth lies more in the intangible. In things such as how your commitment to the work, your gratitude for daily life, and the love of your friends keep you going. Something meaningful to remind you (and myself) that there are greater forces at work.

But the post has been caught in my throat. Despite all my New Year's resolutions and meditation, I haven't magically woken up one morning with all the right words in my head ready to jump out. Instead I've been on deadline knitting up gloves and editing short stories: I've only been thinking about the material, and that's made it a challenge to feel like other types of worth are more substantial.

I started looking through posts I've written in the past when I kept this blog more frequently (something I want to go back to as we move forward in 2014), and I realized that many of them were written under pressure. When I was in school, I only had a few hours that I could dedicate to my own work, versus the days and weeks I can let things drag out for now. Projects were time-sensitive by necessity, because I wouldn't have access to the photocopier or I wouldn't be able to meet up with certain people during winter break. When I produce work, it's like an explosion, but the editing process is a slow burn.

I am learning a lot about my own working style now that I have more unstructured time and - with a few mishaps - I've been trying to work with myself and create those same generative conditions. Like making sure I have a day to plan, a day or two to produce, and a week or more to edit. Like making sure I work outside of the house (even if it means going out in 9 degree weather!). Like making sure I don't get sucked into reading articles about productivity/inspiration and not actually getting through the things I want to accomplish.

Because writing and art for me are not just about the finished product, the worth is in the process. And if I avoid my process for too long, I start to feel sick. I become agitated when I lay down to meditate (another 2014 goal) and consumed by the ever-building pressure inside of me. I hope that on the exhalation that the words would come.

How do you work? What are the things that you just can't live without? Tweet me your answers.