Practice Makes Practice

10 Sep

I’m reading a fantastic book called The War of Art by Steven Pressfield*. He talks about Resistance as an artist’s greatest enemy, and techniques for overcoming it.

Many of them can be boiled down to Buddhist tricks to overcome suffering. Stay in the present.  Identify the problem for what it is.  Keep your ego out of it. Don’t focus on the outcome, just the work itself.  In fact, for that last one, he gave a great quote from the Bhagavad Gita: “We have the right to our labor, but not to the fruits of our labor.”  That was liberating.  With that mindset, I no longer have to worry about writing something that will sell in order to consider myself a successful artist (or human being).  I just have to show up at the page, put my work hat on, and get the job done.

One truth about me is that I have no time.  I have so many things in my life that I want to do, most of them artistic, and no time to do them.  My cup is completely, utterly, one hundred percent full.  With a little dribbling out the sides.  I wish I were one of those people who could get by on 5 or 6 hours of sleep at night, because I’d get so much more done. But I’ve tried, and i just end up too tired to think straight.

And one of the things I’ve been trying to squeeze in is meditation.  I’ve been trying for a while: wake up ten minutes early, practice before bed, during lunch, boring meetings, whatever.  But none of them work.  And I really don’t have time.  I need to do my writing.

You see where this is going, don’t you?

Well, I didn’t, which is why these things are so silly. It didn’t occur to me until this morning that my writing is my practice.  it’s the same thing.  I need to keep pulling my monkey mind back to the page.  I need to show up, put my ego aside, and just do it.  I just worry about the craft, getting what’s in front of me right, and not worry about publishing, or selling, or winning awards. Those will take care of themselves.**

You know, just like in meditation.  Duh.

Of course, now, with this great spiritual epiphany, I begin wondering what other things I can combine.  Cooking dinner while exercising?  Learning to play guitar at work?  Going to art school in my sleep?

Or maybe just one thing at a time.  Yeah, that’s probably the right answer.

But I really want to start playing Guitar Hero…

**Just four bucks on the Kindle, and a really good, honest, fast read.  Highly recommended for anyone of an artistic bent.



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