Thursday, September 27, 2012

Incremental Reality

I posted this picture to Facebook back in May with the title "Naptime Jam."  M was 7 months old and it was the very first time that she was able to nap in her crib for any amount of time and allow me to have a moment.  It was only a half an hour but OH! How many squares and triangles you can cut in that amount of time!  I was triumphant! Up until then, she primarily slept on us, all the time, it was both really hard but really necessary at the time.  But, she grows up, we grow up, and new things become possible.  

One of the responses to the picture was from Lisa W. stating simply "INCREMENTAL REALITY."  That term has been stuck in my head ever since then.  Especially after I put M down in her crib, asleep, stretch and walk quietly out of the room. 

What increment would I work on today?

This new reality of tiny increments of time to get large projects done in - totally not something I as an admittedly impulsive creative person ever thought I would be able to embrace.  

My working style has always been been ALL or NOTHING.    I would work all day on the weekend on a project and stop. Or stay up all night just to keep working on it if the working was good.  I only stopped when exhausted or burnt out.  The next time I had a large chunk of time I would pick it up again be frustrated with why I found it hard to get back into it,  feeling like I was wasting time finding my groove.  Rinse and repeat.   I was in a perpetual distracted state, bouncing between work and my own projects and writing and finishing not much of anything.  I did not know any other way to work - I think that had I a different approach I could have completed more and existed outside of the state of overwhelm I found myself in daily.  Now with M in my life, I have been forced into different daily reality and I wish I had been working this way the entire time.

Big project / small manageable steps daily = forward motion.  I envy you who have known this all along.

Every time I get to work on a creative project it is really just a small thing that I have time for - it might be trace 2 pieces of a pattern while M is eating a waffle, or research something I cant take the time to read but just gather information into Evernote to review later after she is asleep.  Yet overall, so much as been accomplished.  The more little things I do, the more I start to see the snowball of creative ideas moving forward. 

It also frees up the time when M is awake and I can be totally present with her.  

A couple things that help in this incremental reality:

Stopping when the work is good.  I got this from an article about making space for your work/writing by Aimee Bender. (I cannot remember from where!  Probably O-Prah! Magazine, long since recycled.  Yes.  Also admitting that I read O.  What?!)  It is what drives the energy forward the next time you pick up your writing.  This either drives me crazy or does help keep the momentum going.  I generally like to wrap up just PAST the point that the writing is good.  By stopping when its good and then writing a todo list for the next time I pick it up again.  Which leads me to....

Having a work log is key for me to keep track of where I am at any given time on a project.  (And you know I have more than several going on at any given time.)   This is nothing as formal as a notebook - a sheet of paper or even a postit put on top (securely!) of the materials you are working on with the details of what you actually did and what the next steps are.  I find this the MOST helpful.  I can just glance at it and quickly absorb where I was (I might still be feeling the buzz of working from last time, but forgot the particulars) and jump right in.  Or if I'm just not feeling it that day, I can be a robot and look at the next step and just do that one thing.   Like print out a pattern from the internet.  Or cut out a pattern.  Sometimes in the just starting the momentum appears in the doing!

And again, I envy you who have known this all along!  But now I know.  And so do you!

1 comment:

  1. hmmm. this is helpful, as i am in your pre-M all-or-nothing constant state of Overwhelm! not good at increments...