I love yarn. I love blank journals. I love new boxes of crayons. But when it comes time to cast on for a knitting project, put pen to page, or make the first waxy mark on a clean sheet of paper, I hesitate, vacillate, and procrastinate. Why?
These objects embody creative potential. That yarn could become a cozy sweater or a pair of mittens, that journal could be for research or sketching or the things I encounter that surprise me. But as long as I haven’t started, these are all still possibilities. So to get myself to get started, this is what I say:
To create is to commit.
You can’t erase crayon, and you can’t be creative without making some irreversible choices. Sure, most word processors let you hit backspace, and unknitting isn’t that hard either, but eventually you will have to hit submit, or wash and block your finished garment. The potential in yarn and paper is only there if you can choose to do something with it.
This is why I’m writing a blog post here every week. I’ve “started” several blogs with no blog posts because I haven’t decided yet what I want my theme to be. Life? Habits? Communication? Books? Math? I could dither forever. But waiting to start until I have the perfect idea will mean I never start, so I’m starting before I feel ready, and I’ll figure it out as I go. And then every week, I wonder whether one of my other post ideas would be more timely or important than the one I’m working on, and equally whether maybe I should wait to post that one until I can really do it justice. So I tell myself that to create is to commit, just pick whatever topic I feel like I can manage to write about in one weekend, and do it whether what I make is any good or not.
And sometimes I manage to use those crayons too.
5 thoughts on “To create is to commit”
This really hits home for me. I dread beginning many “projects” because I may not be doing it right, or the best, or the most. It can be paralyzing. I've decided that to make that first step – which means to move beyond pondering and researching – and put words on the page, color on the paper, stitches in the fabric is key to doing anything. And is often the hardest step. And I tell myself that there is always another page, a fresh paper and more fabric!
This reminds me of two things. 1. The Joseph Chilton Pearce quote, “To live a creative life, we must lose our fear of being wrong…” and 2. it reminds me of when Dan and I were considering the decision to start down the road of becoming parents. As long as we were just talking about it there were SO MANY possibilities- what our kid might be like, what life would look life if we waited another five years, what we could do then and what more we could provide, what we could do now with the energy we might not have in 5 years, etc. etc. etc.- it is the most scared I have ever been to begin a creation because unlike most of my creative projects it was in no way temporary or able to be done over! It has also become the most beautiful example of starting before you are ready since our kid is my very favorite creation of all…
meant to relate that to say it is also the BIGGEST commitment of all so I think your phrase is dead on 🙂
Moira: So true! Up until you take the first step, for all you know it could turn out perfectly. It's so hard to trade that vague perfection for reality.
“There is always another page…”—that reminds me of something I heard author John Irving say, that instead of seeing a blank sheet of paper as scary, he takes comfort that the paper knows nothing of his past successes or failures: every new page is a fresh start.
PepperdineGal: That's such a good example—it sounds like no other single choice has come even close to defining the shape of your lives to come, or to bringing you as much joy in creation.