Yesterday, while I was wasting some time scrolling through stuff on my phone, I’ve been capture by an interview with an Italian writer and comic book artist. His name is Gipi.
It’s a beautiful interview with many insights into his creative process and his life. Two things that, like with many artists, are deeply connected.
There is a part that really resonates with me. Gipi shares that what he loves the most about his work is that the outcome is beyond his control when he draws.
He said [translation is mine] that he “witnesses, at times, the manifestation of a mystery: that of seeing something happening that you had not foreseen, that you did not know, that it is not your ego that determines and that indeed can exist precisely because your ego has vanished for a while. In other words, I am only satisfied with something I have done when it seems to me that it is not my work.“
I know that feeling. Sometimes I sit down before the keyboard with a clear idea of what I want to write, and then something magical happens. My thoughts take a direction I haven’t foreseen, and in the end, I’m left with something unexpected. Words that I didn’t know I have in me.
All I have to do is to trust that the magic will happen.
It’s not easy, though. When the pressure to deliver kicks in, the ego craves control, and the magic is gone.
But when it happens, it’s pure bliss.
The interview, in Italian, is on the HuffingtonPost Italia.
For the last two months, I used a set of cards as prompts for my morning writings. Today, I’m back to the blank page.
Right now, this bright white screen staring at me feels quite intimidating.
Everything is possible. I can pick any subject, write about anything I want. Yet, that forces me to choose. What wants to emerge? What do I need to write and share?
It is funny how the human mind works. When we have constraints, we yearn for the freedom to do whatever we want. Then, when we get that freedom, we often don’t know what to do with it.
A few times lately, using the strength cards for my writing, I felt limited. There were things I wanted to write about, ideas I wanted to explore, but I didn’t because I made a commitment with myself to go through all those cards. This morning, I can write about everything I want, and suddenly my mind goes blank.
Anyway, I made it through. My fifteen minutes are gone, the page is not blank anymore and, even if it’s not the most inspiring thing I wrote in these four years, I’ll publish it.
Because that is what this is all about. To show up, even when the muse takes a rain check on our writing practice.
I took a short break from this practice.
Not from the writing, only from the publishing.
Last week I kept writing every morning without posting on this blog.
And it makes all the difference in the world.
Without the self-imposed pressure of posting immediately whatever I wrote in fifteen minutes, I easily get lost in research.
Knowing that my time is limited and then I have to put something out there, pushes me to focus on what I already have.
Another valuable lesson is to avoid the trap of chasing perfection. After fifteen minutes, I post what I have. That’s it. I don’t have the time to rewrite, refine and polish. So, I’ve learned to be content with the words that I found. Some days the post is inspired, some days not so much.
But it’s ok.
Knowing that I have to write and post in fifteen minutes frees me from the need to be perfect. As a result, my writing is more authentic. Maybe less chiselled and refined, but indeed more real.
“Art is never finished, only abandoned.”Leonardo da Vinci
What started as a writing practice has evolved, over the year, into a moment of introspection.
Every morning I turn my gaze inside to see what’s going on.
Some times what I find is a reflection of what’s happening outside. Other times I discover some emerging ideas, those are exciting trips. There are mornings in which I lose myself in my own darkness, unable to spot anything useful.
And there are times in which I find nothing.
I’ve learned that the way of introspection it’s a slippery one.
The more I go down inside, the more it becomes hard to see, and in the darkness, it’s easy to stumble and fall on things I can’t see. So, I begin to make up stuff, only to come back into the light.
What starts as a quest for truth, can quickly become a feel-good exercise.
There lies my reason for writing.
This blank page is my rope back to reality. It reminds me that at some point, no matter what I find or don’t find, I need to resurface.
And go on with my day.
With or without answers.
“The man who chases two rabbits, catches neither.”Confucius
This morning I woke up with a few ideas I wanted to write about in my morning practice. But because I couldn’t easily pick one, I’m now stuck and unable to begin while a conversation is still going on in my head.
“This one is interesting!”
“Yeah, but I’m not sure I have enough clarity to write something meaningful.”
“On this other one, we have clarity.”
“But is it interesting enough to read?”
“And what about this?”
“I think I already wrote about that.”
In the meanwhile, time is running, and my morning slot for this practice is getting thinner and thinner. So, here I am. Writing even if I haven’t picked a subject.
If there is one thing I’ve learned in this little morning practice of mine, is that action precedes inspiration. I can’t wait for inspiration to just happens before doing something. Inspiration ensues from my dedication to the creative process.
“This is the other secret that real artists know and wannabe writers don’t. When we sit down each day and do our work, power concentrates around us. The Muse takes note of our dedication. She approves. We have earned favor in her sight. When we sit down and work, we become like a magnetized rod that attracts iron filings. Ideas come. Insights accrete.”Steven Pressfield