April 8, 2014

Erase, Reconcile, Make

Eraser icon designed by Tommy Lau from The Noun Project collection

A fact I’ve only gradually come to realize (and desperately revisit) is that although the act of making is inherently labored, it’s the act of making that also gives the nudge to continue.

Erasure through making

Whether you’re blogging, drawing, painting, filmmaking, photographing, or engaging another creative outlet, the process demands a lot of work. Hard work is a given—and it’s this experience that makers willingly submit themselves to. It’s the experience of initiating a creative project, working it toward completion, and achieving a sense of satisfaction.

Though I feel satisfied when I complete an interview, a Designer’s Quest(oinnaire), or blog post, the satisfaction of getting my work into the world (visible proof of something accomplished) quickly fades. My need to do the next thing—the next interview, the next Designer’s Quest(ionnaire), the next blog post—instantly reappears.

I try to keep making what I like to make. I want to keep reaching that satisfaction from completing something. This kind of satisfaction is a thin and finite feeling, but I desire to reach it again.

What interferes with the act of making are the thoughts that fiercely crawl into my head: Why do I keep working on Design Feast (including this blog), Do people appreciate my work, How can I be better and faster in publishing? The latter is a litany of wishes that increase whenever I discover a newly made thing—book, song, article, object—and especially when I compare myself to people whom I respect (and affectionately envy) for their tremendous capacity to make a lot of things—wonderful things (see my Patronage series).

Matching my pattern of perceiving (inflated with nagging feelings) that I am not making enough, not working fast enough, and not succeeding enough, is the instinct to keep making. When things get done, the instinct to keep making—and acting on it—erases all of those times when I felt insufficient, and facilitates it in a couple of ways:

Making reveals ideas. When making is done over time, a personal timeline of creation assembles in visibility, though what’s exclusively seen is reduced to the foreground. If the collapsed view of this timeline was turned into an accordion fold, you’ll be able to see all of the things you made—when one thing was made after another in succession. This is personal proof of the demonstrated need to create.

Making serves initiative. When something is made, it extends the pavement supporting another envisioned project to start (and finish). One painted composition paves the way for another. One written article paves the way for another. One photograph paves the way for another. A body of work gradually starts to build (with the potential for evolution).

Reconciliation through making

Where reconciliation plays a role in the act of making is in making’s quenching of creativity and the evidence of output, after all is said and done. Making reconciles those previous occasions when ideas and emotions were left flat.

Making something is an achievement. When repeated, making supports the wonder of what more to pursue.

Making through making

So keep writing, keep photographing, keep filming, keep drawing—keep making. I feel better when I’ve made something, like this blog post. I’ve reconciled myself for all of those times I lacked initiative. Here’s to the next creative pursuit.

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Read related post: Never stop making

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