first draft, or: on the nose

I have some trouble with personal decision-making in certain spheres. It used to be worse—I would waffle over where to get a coffee or what pen to buy for, like, a really long time. Maybe spend all morning half-wondering what coffee shop would serve me best. Or staring at a wall of pen choices for long minutes, considering the nuances of every pen option.

I wanted just the right choice so I could work or think at my best. It’s easy from a distance to say that I should’ve just made a decision and moved on, but I often felt so paralyzed: I didn’t really know what I wanted and so couldn’t make a decision.

I’ve gotten better at making small decisions, or at least knowing what outcomes I can expect from small decisions. Let me explain. I don’t noodle for many, many minutes over where to get coffee but often instead just forego coffee shops entirely. It’s extra noise in my day that I previously thought was important for mood-setting and artistic focus. By avoiding, I don’t have to walk to the shop, stand in line, order and buy the coffee, find a seat, get settled, listen to background noise, let my mind settle, begin slightly and then go to the bathroom, maybe see someone I know and get into an unplanned conversation with them, get packed up after doing almost nothing, and leave disappointed.

The going-to-coffee was a stand-in for some kind of meaningful work time and I put so much pressure on the choosing, as if all the creative work would flow out of me effortlessly after I’d perfectly chosen a setting.

Don’t think I dislike great work locations. That’s not what I’m saying. Or don’t think I’m against some good Feng Shui as a catalyst for great thinking.

It’s that I was conflating the choice of a location at which to work, or the pen with which to work, with making good creative decisions. I thought somewhere inside that if I set everything up perfectly I would achieve great results. The easy stuff—finding a coffee shop, buying a great pen—was the work I wanted to do because it had concreteness, and so seemed less intimidating.

After hundreds of tries to set myself up perfectly and never succeeding, after feeling unfulfilled and disappointed so many times, I am seeing that the setup doesn’t matter. The sooner I get to work, the sooner I have some shoddy first draft, and the sooner I get to the beautiful job of editing, revising, iterating, completing, and getting to see a wee bit of my timid soul in the work I put into the world.

I see after so many disappointing failed starts that the belabored coffee shop choice is really fear of the blank page.

And it has taken me so long. Years. Years to begin to realize in some distant visceral location that creation work is scary and it cannot be set up perfectly. Just beginning the work with whatever tools and locations I have at hand has proven the safest and best place to start. Sitting on the couch? Just start. I think anyway there is some safety in just remaining small, staying out of sight of the world, when you begin working.

And then the hard but oh-so-glorious work of continuing. Of showing persistence and discipline. But more on that another time.

second draft, or: MBTI lens

First disclosure

I have a desire. A significant one. It’s a persistent longing. It’s to write and form a body of ideas, and share it with you all and wow you by my smarts and creativity. Yearnings, urges, bubbling cauldrons.

Since this is a persistent thing, I’ve moved through various phases of expression of this yearning.

Like many, I suspect, I associate working on art with feelings related, generally, to the vibe of transcendence. Sounds grandiose, and is in it’s assumptions. I have thought, believed, acted on the idea that I needed these high feelings in order to produce work. The elevated feelings come from creating ideas, from the spark. From the scintilla. From the genesis.

This state of getting high off of ideas is rolling in the intuition.

Is it extroverted or introverted? Dunno.