Be entirely engaged in the process of your work, and be entirely disengaged in the outcome of your work.
– Ann Voskamp
And it got me thinking.
1) This is terrible advice if you’re in aircraft construction.
2) This is wonderful advice if you’re a creative.
But since I don’t run a blog on aircraft construction (no judgement for leaving), I’m going to explore the second point.
I’ll never let go, Jack
My creativity will be hugely popular!
I’ll grow my site to a zillion subscribers!
I’ll sell stuff!
But then reality sets in,
And maybe it’s not like we hoped.
And there’s only 20 engaged readers.
And it’s costing you more than you ever thought it would.
And your creativity sinks to the floor of the Atlantic where it joins the Titanic hull of failed expectations. Expectations that rust, oxidize, and coral into anxiety whenever they aren’t met.
I think outcome is just another way of saying fulfilled expectation; anxiety, the fear of missing, and we miss most when we focus on the things we cannot change.
Learning how to focus
Our focus determines our joy. Focus on far-away expectations and their fulfillment and you rob yourself of the present. No.
Focus must be on something bigger. Something outside yourself.
Something so motivating that just thinking about it sets your soul ablaze.
Because then, creativity is the overflow of the full, and not the forced scratchings of the empty.
The full operates from joy and creates because it has an abundance.
The empty steals joy because it looks at what is not, and creates for what could be.
The full is always satisfied; the empty, never.
For me, right now, this means I need to focus on scheduling out my writing and sticking to that schedule as best as I can. It means I need to abandon the worry that comes Monday night when I have a blog post ‘due’ on Tuesdays because it’s not about pleasing you guys. It means I need to surrender every writing project to heaven asking Jesus what He wants to accomplish. It has to stop being about me, because I’ll never lay a single brick in the Kingdom of God if I am so caught up in building my own.
But what about you?
What’s your mission? What do you hope to accomplish through your creativity. Notice that this question is highly specific different from asking ‘what do you hope your creativity accomplishes’?
The point is never how well received a story, a photograph, or a painting is, but that you’re one step closer to fulfilling that mission.
So what’s yours? What is thing you’re going to focus on rather than all the things you can’t control? That will fill you? That sets your soul ablaze?