If you asked most creative people to identify their biggest hurdle to increasing (and improving) their creative output, most would tell you “I just don’t have enough time.”
It’s the easiest excuse to make, because people will rarely argue with you about it. We’re all too busy right now. We get it.
As if juggling your available time and energy between work and personal interests wasn’t challenging enough to start with, the “work” ball has probably picked up some additional weight in the last year or two, thanks to the economic downturn.
The answer is editing your life the same way you edit your creative work.
None of us know what our personal bandwidth limit is until we hit it. When you’ve hit yours, the struggle to create can become almost impossible to overcome.
It can be particularly difficult when your life is too full of stuff you actually like. Don’t you feel a little weird, when your biggest problems are that you have job security, abundant meaningful relationships and a variety of life-enriching hobbies and interests?
Still, when we hit our bandwidth limit, we have to cut things out. In a previous post, I said the following about how editing contributes to your creative vision:
Editing is removing anything that doesn’t contribute to your creative intent and vision.
This applies to all your creative work, including your life (your ultimate creative oeuvre). Sometimes, it’s necessary to edit your life and remove what’s not contributing to your intent and vision for it. Sometimes, that’s the only way to make room for something essential.
If you’re overloaded enough, the essential thing may simply be “not completely frying your mental/emotional circuitry.”
We often find that when we declare that we’re “cutting back,” everyone who cares about us is 100% supportive…
…As long as what they get from us is not one of the things that’s getting cut. Surely, we can surely cut something else?
Well, yes, we could. But it’s up to us to decide if we should. The unpleasant fact is, there is likely someone else who is invested in what we’re proposing to cut out, no matter what that thing may be. So editing your life is quite possibly going to earn you some criticism worthy of George Lucas after The Phantom Menace came out. Criticism is never fun, but it is an unavoidable part of a creative life.
You could choose to view their hostility as a reflection of how much they value that thing you do. It’s lovely to be needed and appreciated. That’s a gift. It’s okay to bask a little in that.
But remember that the person is mostly just squealing because she doesn’t want that thing you do for her to be something that ends up on the cutting room floor as you’re editing your life. If your life has reached Dances with Wolves overblown, too-muchness, and what you really need is perhaps a nice 90 minute romantic comedy, then something’s going to have to go.
Regardless, no one is going to take being edited out well, or happily. Be prepared for the external and internal resistance you’re going to face.
Then do what you need to do anyway.
Image by joi
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