Aiming for excellence in your chosen field is the sign of a Master craftsman in the making . . . but striving for perfectionism almost always guarantees a zero return on your efforts. If sheer output stands as a legacy of living a full creative Life, then the only thing a perfectionist typically has to show for his/her good intentions are a bunch of projects left undone.Read More
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It’s incredibly easy to convince yourself that you don’t have the time to accomplish something. Excuses abound at every turn - I should know; I’ve used practically all of them - and it takes leaning on just one to throw you completely off track. The more time you waste digging around for an excuse not to do something, the less likely you’ll ever begin, and before you know it, your physical Life has ended. Oh well . . . better luck next time there buster.
Unfortunately that kind of depressing pattern speaks to a lot of people. And then there’s another breed altogether . . . the sort of person who finds a way to make their goals fit with their current circumstances no matter what.
The writer Raymond Carver is a shinning example of exactly that.
Find A Winning Suit
Raymond Carver always dreamed of being a novelist. Well as it turns out, novels are cumbersome, incredibly involved, and dizzyingly complex projects to juggle. As a married man with several kids to support, Carver just couldn’t make that specific dream fit in with the reality he was wrestling with day in and day out: endless financial troubles coupled with a series of various jobs that kept him away from his craft for many hours each day.
A less committed person would have thrown in the towel and given up on writing altogether. But Carver’s determination was stronger than that. So he made his art fit in with what he could reasonably handle: He became a short-story writer instead.
In between work hours, Carver would hammer out a 10-15 page story in a few sittings and then go back and spend the next several weeks fine-tuning it until he got it just right. For Raymond Carver, short stories were manageable, and with time, persistence, passion, and hard work, he eventually excelled. Carver never wrote a novel, but he became a great writer anyway . . . in a way that best suited his Life.
What Works For You?
Like Carver, many of us have dreams of living more creative lives, compelled as he was to make something by any means necessary. But the question to ask yourself is:
What can I reasonably tackle given my Life situation right now?
- As an example, you may be drawn to filmmaking. Big Hollywood features get all the glory, but for the overwhelming majority of aspiring directors worldwide, a jaunt down the red carpet at the Oscar’s just isn’t in the cards. Now that doesn’t mean that it can’t happen or that you shouldn’t go for it - someone has to get there after all, right? But if the sort of intensely sacrificial life-style that it takes to become an A-list feature film director doesn’t fit with your current situation, why not make short films instead? They give out lots of awards for those too . . . even an Oscar.
- If you don’t have the studio space to make massive paintings that cover an entire wall - I certainly don’t - then dial your approach down a bit and concentrate instead on mastering smaller pieces. As of this writing, I’ve never painted anything larger than 30” x 20.”
- Maybe your schedule only allows you to write for an hour each morning before work. Well, if spending 3 years chipping away at a novel doesn’t sit well with you, then set a goal of fashioning one solid poem every month. That’s what Pulitzer Prize-winning poet Ted Kooser did for several decades, and today he’s regarded as one of America’s most gifted living poets.
Talker’s and Doer’s
Bottom Line: Make your given circumstance work for you, otherwise you run the all-too-common risk of using that same predicament as an excuse to never ‘pull the trigger’ in the first place.
If you’re really serious about living a creative lifestyle that satisfies your soul, then you’ll find a way to make it happen. That’s how you separate the ‘Talkers’ form the ‘Doer’s.’ They always find a way . . .
So . . . are you a ‘Talker’ or a ‘Doer?’ The choice is - and always will be - yours alone to make.
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