Painters must want to paint above all else. If the artist in front of the canvas begins to wonder how much he will sell it for, or what the critics will think of it, he won’t be able to pursue original avenues. Creative achievements depend on single-minded immersion.
Like I said a couple of weeks ago, every now and again I go back into my old story files. Occasionally, what I find in there is BAD, embarrassing even. Don’t email me now about my negative attitude; that it’s bad just tells me how much I’ve improved as a writer. There’s one story in there, though, that I wrote and shared with an old writing group. I read it to the members, and… silence poured forth. No one even bothered with a platitude like “Good try.” I’ll just say that the story involved belly button lint, a hangover, and sex. Maybe the group was mortified for me, thinking it was autobiographical. It wasn’t. I’ll add that it was an honest writing effort on my part, and I had no thoughts of publishing anything at that time.
BTW, I’m one of those people who dances in my house when no one but the dog is watching. During the recent Sochi Olympics, I even did some figure skating in the family room. The family did NOT award me a medal, though my husband said I had enthusiasm. And heart. And that’s what writing or hooking or painting or any passion you have is about.
Csikszentmihaly (the guy quoted above) is known for his flow theory, which he described as:
…being completely involved in an activity for its own sake. The ego falls away. Time flies. Every action, movement, and thought follows inevitably from the previous one, like playing jazz. Your whole being is involved, and you’re using your skills to the utmost.
While I was probably using my skills to the utmost when I wrote that belly button lint story, I’m glad that I’ve raised that skill bar a LOT HIGHER in the past several years. Because I practiced, because I wanted to become a better writer. Of course, I hope that I publish more stories, but when I start one, all that’s on my mind is trying to find the best words, the most interesting characters, and a viable plot. Reader shmeader. The only person I’m trying to impress at that point is me. When I do that, I’ll be ready to astonish the world with my dancing. I mean, writing.
…It is when we act freely, for the sake of the action itself rather than for ulterior motives, that we learn to become more than what we were.
What activities do you lose yourself in? Where can they take you?