One of the great gifts of creative effort, for me, is that it invites me to deal with mistakes. Maybe there are artists who can birth what's in their minds into the world without compromise. Not me.
The creative spark that brings me to the blank surface is tied to a vague vision of the finished product. I don't know exactly what it is but I know that, when I am finished, what I have in front of me is not exactly what I meant to do.
Even in the midst of creating, materials surprise me, my hand makes an unexpected motion, I can't remember the right word and mistakes are made.
I continue creating partly so that I can continue practicing what happens next: I need to
release, recommit and return.
1. Release: When I make a mistake (or mishaps occur or I haven't done something I intended to do) my monster-mind starts complaining about how this will ruin everything and how there is no recovery from such disaster. I take a deep breath, look on my monster-mind with compassion and release all judgments and the emotions that ride in their slipstreams.
2. Recommit: there is a part of me that wants to give up at this point. I am so childish that if I can't get what I want I will take my marbles and go home. Instead, the grown-up me needs to recommit to doing the project. Even if it's not what I intended, it may be something wonderful. The project itself deserves a chance to become real.
3. Return: I need to pick up the brush or return to the keyboard or make a call. I need to return to work. If I'm scared to restart I can identify the smallest action and do just that one small thing. For example, I can load the brush with color and make a mark on a piece of scratch paper. Usually, taking a tiny action makes the next action easy.
Practicing Release-Recommit-Return in my creative work reminds me to do it in the rest of my life. Practicing Release-Recommit-Return serves me well.
Kate Wolfe-Jenson writes and makes art about chronic illness, creativity
and spirituality. Interested in monsters and angels, garbage and
flowers, brokenness and wholeness, she suspects they call us toward joy.
Someday she hopes to dissolve into a ball of light. Her blog is JourneyDancing.com.