Some people sweat about a blank page. I was probably worried about making the first mark at one point in my life. Not now. These days I'm comfortable with blankness. Too comfortable.
I have a long list of hedonistic pleasures (more on that another day), one of which is allowing myself to get lost in what's possible, and to let the thinking-about-doing completely eclipse the actually-doing. I hide it well, but my brain thinks about making and doing and drawing and living—plotting and scheming, as I like to call it—approximately 1430 minutes out of every day.
Here's what it sounds like inside my brain when I'm wandering around aimlessly in an imaginary world of what I could do. I love it. And I love the Smashing Pumpkins (more on them another day).
But the sad and embarrassing reality is that spending so much time in planning and so little time in execution is a lot like what opiate addicts call "chasing the dragon"—a constant pursuit of an ultimate experience that is always just out of reach.
Here's one thing I do know: maybe execution doesn't always deliver, but never executing never delivers.
Going to the effort to peel an orange that turns out to be pulpy and tasteless is so frustrating and so common for me that I don't buy or eat oranges anymore. I don't miss them. I don't even really remember what they taste like. I do, however, invest the effort to eat clementines and grapefruits. What does that mean? It means that whatever calculation of risk and return is going on in my citrus consumption needs to be applied to my balance of planning and execution of work, or I'm going to wind up with creative scurvy.
Yes, I do have a point, and it's not just about why and when I decide to put pencil to paper. Any time I'm left alone with a blank page, an empty suitcase, a gift card to Amazon, a roomful of books, a lengthy to-do list, or a weekend with no plans, it looks like this:
Too many choices to obsess about. Too much opportunity to plan.
Here's where I think most effective people (like my sister) are. They've thought things through enough to move forward, but don't spend any more time than necessary hemming and hawing before digging in. I bet there are several artists I admire who are even farther to the right than this X:
Maybe someday I'll be ready to dive right into a project without hours of agonizing. But that day is not soon (naturally). For now, I will be happy scooting my X to the juuust-right Goldilocks area of the range:
That's perfectly reasonable. (Like losing 10 pounds, which is a first cousin of this intention/action conversation.) For a start, I'll shoot for 180 minutes of action and 1260 minutes of intention per day.
One of my motivating factors in starting this blog is to help keep me mindful of the balance between living in a plotting/scheming fantasyland and actually putting some of those grand designs to work. Posting on the blog counts as action; making something to post on the blog counts as action, too, and that's where the magic is really supposed to happen. And just like I always am preaching, with more practice, this whole action thing ought to get easier and better.
4/6/13 - 2.5 hrs
Welcome to the accountability area of my life, where I will be posting process sketches and other important stuff I let myself avoid when I'm "busy."