It’s been an interesting start to 2013 to say the least—I barely even had time to set a resolution! I did however manage to survive the apocalypse of 2012, and it appears as though you have too. Congratulations!
Within the first week of the New Year, I celebrated my mom’s new marriage as well as mourned the sudden loss of my grandfather (this guy #9 on the list…my favorite man in the whole wide world…), and with these two enormous events literally falling back to back, I was faced with the dilemma of having to write two separate speeches about some pretty important people in my life in a just short amount of time. How was I possibly supposed to start writing something that could do either relationship justice when there were literally a million things to say?
As I sat there staring at not one but two blank pages on my computer screen, it occurred to me how metaphoric this situation was to life in general. Sometimes life happens unexpectedly, sometimes you can see it coming, but either way, new beginnings often require deliberate action (at least they do for me). I very rarely approach a new situation/task without some premeditated game plan stored away in my back pocket; once I have a plan of action, I’m fine…I just struggle with the whole ‘make a plan of action’ bit…
Where and how to start??? (my two least favorite queries…)
I find that with anything…starting a paper, a new semester, or even choreographing a new dance (ok…especially with choreography), that once I make the giant world of opportunities into a small pond of options, I’m all of a sudden free to make a move; surprise, restrictions are actually my friend! I used to think that imposing limitations would only hinder my creative process, and I worried that by assigning a specific task to my process I was eliminating the creative portion of the job. What I failed to realize however was that if I didn’t choose a focus, my work would invariably turn out disjointed and disorderly.
Ummmm…have you ever anchored a boat out in the middle of the ocean? When all you can see in either direction is water, it can become extremely daunting to figure out which direction will take you home at the end of the day. Sometimes all you need is a compass to inspire a successful pathway, you just have to remember to pack the compass before you leave the dock in the morning.
In the case of my grandpa, I thought about his legacy; rather than trying to recall every memory, I wrote about how his values have impacted my life and how our relationship was unique because of those principles. I took a similar approach when writing about my mom, I thought about the principles of our family and how this new marriage would feed them. As I said earlier, I could have written a million different things about either person, and if I had, nobody but myself would have understood it—I knew that the end result needed to reach a broader audience, so I wrote accordingly.
Soooo…how do you make a compass of your very own?
-First, you must paint a clear picture of what “home” looks like. Detail everything you know about the finished product before you even get started.
-Pick out one or two details about your “home” that are important to you. Consider this information as you build a plan of action. Consider drawing a mind-map.
-Work slowly and commit to each step as it develops. I often work backwards in my head before I make any move physically.
I find that sometimes I need to work out of order; maybe jumping ahead to a new paragraph/movement phrase is what you need to find clarity in what you’re doing in the present moment. Nothing is precious; throw things away if they aren’t working and keep making strides forward. Keep your eye on the prize and your emotions in check.
Here’s to new beginnings. It’s going to be great. Happy 2013!