July 23, 2020

Way

Last night I flipped through the first few pages of Julia Cameron’s The Artist’s Way. People have been telling me to read this book for years. It’s helped them with procrastination, they said, and it might help me too. Of course I ignored them, preferring to ruminate in my muck. It’s that idiot glitch in my brain: This might help me, so I will avoid it.

Cameron’s use of the phrase “creative injury” struck me. It’s a heroic image, the artist suffering a crushing blow that leaves them limping off the field. It suggests they really tried to soar. Maybe this happens to some people. My injuries stem from the dull everyday fears that I’ve allowed to fester. The source is the same, even if the shadows they cast might vary depending on the day: paralyzing doubt versus a brittle kind of rigidity, fear of rejection versus perfectionism, etc.

I know how to fix this because it’s the same thing I tell my students. Give up on inspiration. Show up every day for an hour, or even ten minutes if that’s all you can spare, but write no matter what. Write as poorly as you can and see where that takes you. As long as the keyboard is clicking or the pen is moving, something is bound to happen.

Take my advice, I’m not using it. Instead, I stare out the window. I organize my music library. I make needlessly complicated systems with color-coded index cards. I doodle and wait for a moment that will never arrive.

Several years ago, an old man in New Orleans told me it doesn’t matter if the nail is in the exact right place, so long as it’s holding together two pieces of wood.


Round Three feat. Paul St. Hilaire – Find a Way

Round Three | Main Street Records, 1998 | More
Each night in 2020 I'm writing a short post for a series called Notes From the End of a World because I want to etch these days into my memory before I forget them. Before the world changes completely.
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