Tuesday, 22 May 2012

Patience and Calm

Wanting things can be a real pain. Those who want the latest material things, the latest mobile phone, the latest trainers, the latest gadget and the countless other things we see advertised every day can get really down when they calculate how many months or years it will take to save up the money, or find out the specific version they want is sold out or only available in Japan. Then you have those who want to achieve (there is nothing wrong with wanting material things by the way…I’m typing this on my lovely new mac and I bloody love it…I’m just not focusing on that in this blog) and that’s a bit harder to do a month-by-month plan for. You can’t say, in 4 weeks I will have wrote my first song, by 6 weeks, recorded my first album, by 10 weeks got a record deal and by 12 weeks be an international superstar. Now, of course you can aim for that and hope for that but it’s not as straightforward as saying I save ten pounds this month and next month I save another ten pounds and then I have twenty pounds and I can buy that thing I want that costs twenty pounds. Now, it’s also different talking about fame, that’s definitely another blog, I’m not putting that in the mix here.
What I think is really hard to do is to have patience; to me it’s a skill to acquire, an exercise to train in every day and something to always remind yourself of. Sometimes it’s actually a good idea to say by week 4 I want to have written my first song, that’s discipline, it’s forcing you to work hard, to achieve…and hanging around all day for inspiration to deliver you a perfectly composed hit is only going to have you reaching for the razor blades, but, what is also important is to be calm and patient and reflective when it comes to the end of those four weeks and you look at that piece of work and say to yourself “I’m not really happy with that”, (substitute a more choice set of words if you like…) that’s good, that means you are taking your work seriously and are not prepared to release anything you are not 100% proud of. I bet you 99.9% of people release it anyway, I know I’m guilty of that, but it’s so much more worthwhile when you take a minute and think it through…what is wrong with taking another week, re-reading it one more time…give yourself that chance.
All journalists, editors and the like are probably laughing their backsides off right now but I’ll defend myself by saying I’m not talking about doing a job for someone else, paid or otherwise; I’m talking about doing something for you. Struggling with something creative and personal is a very emotional process. Tell yourself you are allowed to have moments of panic, moments when you cannot possibly imagine a way this is going to end the way you want it to, you’ll never get it finished, you’ll never be happy with it, etc, etc. That means you are not selling yourself short. Once something is out there, there is no taking it back, sure you can re-release it, create a revised edition and so on but that initial product will always be there and you should make sure you are happy with it as it’s got your name on it and no one else is going to take the blame for it…even if it is someone else’s fault! Someone behind the scenes is pressurizing you or whatever the case may be, no one else is going to know that, it’s only going to be associated with you and you alone so make sure you are as strong as you can be and fight for the output you want.
            A good but frustrating moment can be when you are happily working away at something and suddenly you have an idea that changes its direction or it naturally progresses along a route you didn’t foresee and you start to realize it’s going to be a bigger beast that you expected…well you should be happy, right? That means you are developing and your creative muscles are flexing…but all you can think about is how much longer it is now going to take you, how many more nights in are you going to have, how many more nights at the pub are you missing...am I ever going to do anything else! Again, patience, it may be the right thing to do to carry on working hard and focus solely on it, or you may think you need a break and a weekend away will do you good so the work can be put on hold for a few days, either way, do what you feel is right and you will finish it in the end. A totally ridiculous analogy (but one that I will write and embarrass myself with anyway, remember I’ve got an hour deadline for each blog so give me some leeway…) is when I am waiting for a bus and people are rushing to get on and someone at the back of the queue (if there is one, I feel quite old fashioned even saying that) is trying to push in and so on…I often say to myself, just be patient, don’t get stressed or mad, don’t start swearing…the bus will only drive off when the last person gets on, no sooner, so I often just take a moment, let everyone else get on and then slowly and calmly make my way on at the end, everyone is on and the bus continues and I will get to my stop in just the same amount of time as if I had pushed in. Of course, the argument goes that if we were all so polite as to constantly stop to let the person behind us on first then we’d all be stuck in a cycle of pleasantries and no bugger would ever get on and we’d never move off…but you know what I’m trying to say. You will get there in the end, just keep working hard, have patience, remain calm and try and enjoy it along the way.
            I’ll relate this to writing but of course it can be anything: there is only so much time you can commit. You may have a full time job, or many, you may have children, you may have other family commitments, you could have a number of things that take up your time. Try and get a certain amount done every day if you can, like anything routine and practice are key. However, be patient! If you miss a day, well so what, just make sure you do it the next day. Don’t get upset if you get delayed for a good reason. If you are writing a story and a great idea pings into your head so you start writing something else for a bit, don’t get frustrated that you haven’t worked as much on the first one as you would have wanted, that’s fine, they’ll both get finished in the end. If you need to rewrite a scene do it, if you need to change a character, do it, if you need to make an amendment to something you have already amended twenty bloody times, do it, and so on…If you want a six pack stomach then you have to do sit ups every day. If you want to grow a beard then…erm, you don’t shave every day (that’s not so relevant that one, ignore), there is no shortcut, you have to work hard and dedicate time to it every day. However, that alone is not the answer, so make sure you learn to be patient as there are so many things that need to be done in life that you can’t expect it all overnight.
            I’ve got tonnes of ideas and I want to get them all out of my head NOW…I want to write more skillfully and beautifully NOW…I want to publish my next story NOW…but I also want to be able to remember to enjoy my life at the same time. We'll get there in the end.

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