Avoidance Behavior and the Passion To Create

I spend waaaayyyy (in whiny voice) more time reading Blogs than writing posts – obviously (she said, chagrined). So when I read a Blog post titled “the Passion to Create” on Lyric Art by Lyric Montgomery Kinard a while ago, my mind went into all kinds of weird twists and turns. It started to vibrate, stretch and blur. Colors flowed and imploded… kinda of like a 60’s psychedelic movie effect (think “2001: A Space Odyssey”). Then it suddenly snapped into focus and I fell to the floor, exhausted.

kaleidoscope by H. Pellikka
kaleidoscope by H. Pellikka

Melodrama aside, it did make some concepts that I’d been slowly realizing suddenly become clear. The big question posed to Lyric by another artist was “how do you keep the passion to create going when you have so many “life” commitments?” A good question and she actually discussed it twice here http://lyrickinard.blogspot.com/2011/03/art-247-and-finding-balance.html and here http://lyrickinard.blogspot.com/2011/03/passion-to-create.html with great ideas.

I’ve been struggling with this one for quite some time, at least a year it seems. But my take on this subject is a whole lot different.

My routines are what save me when it comes to keeping the household and life’s mundane chores in check (thank you FlyLady).

But, I’ve traveled more this past year and a half then the last ten put together, so much so my routines have utterly self destructed. My good eating and exercise routines have completely bitten the dust and I’ve let myself wallow in overwhelm a little (OK, a lot). What is the cause of this efficiency collapse? Not that I was ever very efficient, full disclosure here: efficiency is not my natural state.

Tacoma Narrows Bridge Collapse, Galloping Gurdy
Tacoma Narrows Bridge Collapse, Galloping Gurdy

Is the cause of efficiency collapse too much freedom to do as I want?

???? How can that be a bad thing???

Turns out structure and commitments are a good thing. Solid deadlines keep me moving forward. A structured schedule of when to do what (Monday is light laundry and fiber day, Tuesday is dark laundry and computer day). My structure makes sure it all gets done – eventually. Without that structure I flounder with “what should I be doing?” syndrome. Then the daily chores of “life’s commitments” often become just busy work. I do things that I know need to be done because I can see the dog hair on the floor and the plants need water and one thing leads to another and I’m sooo busy and overwhelmed until it all becomes (drum roll) Avoidance Behavior.

There, I said it. I’m avoiding the work that matters.

Avoiding Walk by Life of Riley
Avoiding Walk by Life of Riley

So, my question to everyone who struggles with finding time for art when mundane life gets in the way is “what do you/I fear?” Do you really need to vacuum the living room again or can it wait – or even better, be done by someone else? Are you volunteering to help with the food drive because there is no one else that can do it or because it’s easier than facing the unknown in the studio. Do you have so much inspiration and so many ideas that you can’t decide on which one to focus on? Are you secretly afraid that you can’t do justice to any of them so you spend an entire day perfecting the way you fold sheets instead? Is your inner critic the real culprit, not the number of commitments you have?

In my case… I’m pretty sure it’s a huge percent.

They say (whomever they are) that if you really want to do something you will find time for it. I believe that. I also believe that if there is something about what you want to do that scares you or confuses you, you will find you have no time for it.

So, my challenge for me is to look at the things I want to do and ferret out the avoidance causes. One of the avoidance behaviors I exhibit is not sticking to my incredibly well thought out routines/schedule.

  • Is it indecision? I simply don’t know what to do next? Knowing that Monday is fiber day doesn’t help if I don’t know what my fiber project needs to move forward. Find out!
  • Is it doubt? I doubt I can do it justice and have it look like it does in my head? Then learn to be flexible and embrace serendipity.
  • Is it fear of failure? If I fail I have wasted time, money and materials. If I fail, people will point and jeer. Reality check; if I fail in my studio, nobody has to see it or know – I am the only one who will point and jeer – be nicer to myself! The wasted time, money and materials become raw materials for another project. I once cut up an ugly quilt and got a lot of really great ATCs.
  • And the really hidden fear; is it fear of success? If this goes really well and I sell a lot of them will I become a slave to the “biz”? Will my life change to something unknown or different from what it is? This fear is vague, think about the worst case scenario until you know what exactly it is – it’s usually not as scary as you thought it might be.
Fear Skeletor by Brendan Mruk
Fear Skeletor by Brendan Mruk

I also think that doing something new or different in one part of my life (a new job or responsibility) that can have attached fears of it’s own can, and often, leaks fear into other areas. Suddenly, that project that I was humming along on at a confident clip gets bogged down with doubts because I’m not yet comfortable in my new position as President of the Soap Bubble Club and it’s leaking discomfort all over my other endeavors. This is really dumb and the leaks need to be found and plugged.

Like most challenges, there is probably no one cause or easy fix. As in real life, it’s always a complicated combination of many little causes.

Now that I have this draft written, if it actually gets posted you will know that I’m consciously working on my corrections. Let’s face it, if it actually gets posted I have been brave (exposed myself to the world). Maybe that courage will leak into my studio time and work.

Deb H

PS – All images in today’s post are from Wikimedia – an incredibly great source for copyright free and Creative Commons images, enjoy!

Avoidance Behavior and the Passion To Create

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