On a recent Brain Trust call (the mastermind group I’ve been part of for 9+ years), Eric said something about his habit of forgetting what he had created:
“While I’m in the midst of creating, I’m so joyful – even when it’s tough going – and I feel such a sense of fulfillment. Then when I’m done there’s a short afterglow . . . But, then, I forget the project. I lose touch with the sense of meaning. I’m adrift with no sense of what I’ve created or of its value.”
I squeaked, “Me, too!”
Like Eric, I easily forget what I’ve created. It’s as if the work has gone poof!
I come down with a case of creative amnesia. Finished = never existed.
Then, like Eric, I can easily get discouraged because I feel like I haven’t made anything. I might start going in circles, repeating old ideas. I waste time searching for stuff.
My creative amnesia springs from my love of the new, the bright, the shiny, and it mostly comes from my love of creating itself.
Perhaps the creative process can consume itself if not given a mirror of its own history?
Or perhaps we forget our creative output as a protective shield from feeling our own power and impact?
Whatever the reasons, it feels to me like two practices might be useful:
To practice fully digesting and receiving the blessing of whatever we create. To slow down and bask. Take in the finished painting, the glowing student comments, the published blog post more deeply.
Create a project history book or map. I’m thinking of an index for my projects: my books, my teaching offers, blog posts, current book ideas, magazine articles, guest posts, etc. Perhaps a digital document with links? This document would need to include key points for projects still in play because I forget what the individual parts are and that trips me up.
Maybe small visual reminders of recent and current projects that can be seen often would also be useful? If I was crafty, I’d make miniature prayer flags, a flag for each project, but since I’m not, I’ll probably use Post-it notes.
I’m also thinking of asking the Brain Trust to help me remember by asking me, “What are you forgetting? What are you discounting?” Who could you ask?
* * *
I know this work is going to be hard for me to do because it means I must slow down and go backwards. But the cost of creative amnesia has become too high, so I hope that will motivate me to take the time to develop a system to remember and appreciate my personal creative lineage.
And if any of these ideas speak to you, I hope you will too.
Next week I’ll talk about marketing as another important way to reverse creative amnesia.
Thanks and love,