"The athlete knows the day will never come when he wakes up pain-free. He has to play hurt."
- Steven Pressfield (The War of Art)
Making anything of meaning requires space: to think, focus and create.
Thoreau lived in isolation at Walden pond for 2 years, 2 months and 2 days to write his first book.
Barrack Obama secluded himself on a beach in Bali for a couple of weeks (a mere 6 weeks after getting married) to finish the manuscript for his book, Dreams From My Father.
Whether you think you need a couple of weeks or two years to make that thing you have always felt the urge to create, the truth is that modern society will rarely afford you such luxuries.
For most of us, the concept of uninterrupted stretches of time is simply not viable. Between doing the work that pays the bills and building a home life with your family, the equilibrium simply requires you to show up consistently every day.
Taking a break from your normal life to go write / build / paint / focus elsewhere for a week is something aspirational, but simply not a guarantee.
What if we redefined what space meant though? And we were to integrate that definition of space into your normal, daily life? What would that look like?
For me, it comes down to only a few things:
- Be aware of the things that are most important to me. This is about the things I'd like to make, for whom I'd like to make those things and why making those things is that important to me. If your awareness is strong and persistent enough, space eventually presents itself.
- Start by doing less. Less of everything. Less work. Less social commitments. Less exercise. Less reading. What this prompts is an evaluation of why you're doing these things and how it serves the things that are most important to you. If they don't serve those things, you can probably reduce or eliminate them altogether. This should create a bit of extra time for you.
- Once you have eked out a bit of time, pick a daily habit that supports the things you need to make. Start with 30 minutes or 2 hours; whatever is viable for you to do consistently. Pick a schedule (every weekday) that is flexible enough for you to keep without pressure. Now you have space.
- Then you have to show up with all of you, all that you are and all that you hope to make. Do this repeatedly in the long-term and that thing you'd like to make will eventually manifest itself. This is momentum.