Until last week, I had been on a roll. I had posted a blog every Tuesday for over four months. But last week was different. I had to let go of something. And that “something” turned out to be a blog post.
As many of you know, I was recently laid off (with my entire team of dozens of technical workers). You’d think I’d have a ton of time on my hands. Instead, every day seems incredibly busy. I won’t bore you with all the details. But I can tell you that being unemployed is a lot of work.
In addition to providing me with time to reassess, this shift has given me the space to look more deeply at what I value. Obviously, I’d like to align my life with what I value. So that’s what I’m in the process of doing.
Though I get a lot from my interactions with you here, I have to weigh that with a myriad of other demands on my time. The same can be said of creative endeavors of any kind. As one of my dear friends often repeats: “Make art now. Clean the house later.”
One of the things I value is my face-to-face interactions. Though I had a work-from-home job and deeply value my friendships with hundreds of people I’ve never had coffee with, I am now drawn to IRL* relationships more than ever.
You can also easily see that one of my interests and challenges is the present moment. Among other things, this is one of the categories of posts on this blog. It’s also something I repeatedly have to call myself back to.
If there’s a current project with a deadline (not set by me), I know that I need to focus there before my own somewhat arbitrary deadlines. As an example, last week I was beginning to practice piano for a middle school musical. The score reduction provided to me had significant challenges (including missing measures, incorrect chords, and so on). Because of this, I had to give considerably more time to the preparation and rehearsals than I had expected. With the performance approaching, it was important to support the youth by putting this project ahead of others.
It’s one thing to decide what to let go of. It’s another to actually do the letting go. While I don’t have a perfect way to do this, here’s what I know so far:
- Breathe. Seriously: take a deep breath.
- Remind yourself (myself) that missing the self-imposed deadlines won’t kill anyone.
- Notice what’s really important. “What do I value in this moment?”
- Be professional. Honor your (my) commitments. If I said I’d accomplish something by a certain date, do it. (If there’s absolutely no way to finish on time, renegotiate well before the deadline.)
- Giving is good. The gift may be to others (the youth in the musical, for example) or to yourself. Or — better yet — to both.
How do you decide what to prioritize in your creative life? And, more importantly, how do you actually let go once you’ve made the choice? I’d love to interact with you on these questions. Leave a comment here and let’s keep the conversation going.
*IRL stands for “In Real Life” (in contrast to someone known only via virtual/social-network connections).
6 thoughts on “Creative Process: What To Let Go Of”
As always, Stan, I admire how candid you are and how you examine subjects on a level that people can relate to!
Letting go is such a hard topic! I agree with you that fulfilling your commitments is important ~ I have to review my list of commitments each day so I don’t “accidentally” forget them! If I make progress on those each day, it sometimes doesn’t leave me much time for certain things, so then I HAVE to drop them, at least for awhile. My IRL friends have understood when that happens.
As a friend of yours on social media (and having met you IRL too!), I can tell you that focusing more on your IRL friends is totally understandable!
Thanks, Linda! I am always appreciative of what a good and supportive friend you are both IRL and in these virtual worlds. And I completely understand about the “accidents” you mention! Especially since I became unemployed, I’ve been deeply aware of how challenging it is to create structure when it’s not coming from the outside. When I had a job, every day had a built-in structure. Now, I must create it for myself. I know you’ve done that for many years and I deeply respect how well you‘ve done with it!
Important insight here. We often put ourselves last when we are trying to achieve big goals. It’s essential to care for ourselves. Great things come from that. Thank you for sharing.
Thanks, Jess! I know that “me time” is one of my challenges and appreciate knowing that you have a similar reflection. I look forward to checking out your blog!
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