I will produce at least one creative work every day, from now until Sept. 9, 2009. Not all will be posted here on a daily basis (some will be here), but all posted works will be placed in this category.
I had always intended to extend my one month trial of making-a-thing-a-day (during the year of one month lifestyle experiments) to a full year’s project. It’s a fairly modest endeavor, in reality, but even in a month I noticed the interesting side effect that a kind of insta-flow was enabled, greatly reducing the normal friction involved in producing anything…overcoming the blank page, the excuses, the self-doubt. It’s also an important exercise in working through the suck, which is a phase that I think is grossly under-emphasized in an artistic career. It should be a given that the majority of your initial production will be bullshit, and that rather than being discouraged by that you should try to burn through it as quickly as possible. This is an attempt to burn through a lot of suck.
I am anticipating as well that an emphasis on routine creative output will open up a greater space for contemplation in my daily life, which is something I’ve been missing recently. When all aspects of your career ($$$ and art, where they’re separate) involve creative work, and neither has a fixed schedule, it becomes very seductive to simply bounce from one to the other: when paid work is not going well you pull out the sketchbook, and vice versa. Add in the pervasive computerized distractions involved in online work, and you’re essentially giving all your attention over to work or entertainment, losing the free-form, contemplative, empty time that allows real creativity to happen. It still exists in waiting rooms, in line, and the occasional walk during a problematic afternoon, but in ever diminishing amounts. Others have said all this better, but I mention it because I’ve been feeling the absence very acutely lately, as I’ve grown increasingly busy with freelance work.
The few times I’ve held normal jobs, there was the hour long lunch break as built-in contemplative time, and to this day my memories of those times all consist of long walks around Manhattan, bus rides, standing in line, watching people through cafe windows. All the times that my mind wandered and something promising occurred to me. Studio time is foremost, and sacred, sure–but it’s easy to forget that part of the job, perhaps the most ultimately useful, involves staring out the window. Lying on the couch and looking at the light shifting across the ceiling. David Berman’s poems are a great example of the importance of random, nonjudgmental contemplation within daily life. I considered adding this as a clause in the above contract, but in the end I also agree with the premise–stated frequently elsewhere–that ideas only have value as multipliers of execution, so I kept the contract action-oriented.