One of the things we do to develop our creative gifts is practice. We practice our dance steps. We practice our drawing skills. We practice our lines. And one of the hardest parts of practice is persisting when you’re seeing absolutely no signs of progress!
As a newbie guitar player, I know what I’m talking about. As I hear myself plunk-plunk-plunking day after day, sounding incredibly like I’m playing that Snoopy guitar we had when we were kids, my heart sinks. How do I stay hopeful when that E minor chord sounds the same today as it the day I learned to play it?
Thinking about planting helps.
On the new moon I planted three beautiful seeds (as those of you in the Full Worm Moon Dreamboard Workshop will know!) I’ve been watching that little plant pot very closely and so far there are absolutely no visible signs of growth. But one thing I know is that even though I can’t see anything happening, it doesn’t mean that nothing is happening!
It’s the same with our creative practice. When we’re learning French or knitting or singing or playing guitar and we don’t see any improvement, that doesn’t mean that we’re not making progress!
I noticed that when I took up running too. My progress was anything but linear! Some days I would have a good run (Okay, an all right run) and other days it was a slog. What I realized after a while was that it wasn’t helpful me to worry about my progress. It was simply my job to show up, again and again.
Just as I know that one day those seeds will sprout, I know that one day I’ll be able to run a little longer and one day I’ll play guitar and it will sound a little better – as long as I show up and practice.
I know that practicing in those circumstances is pretty painful. That’s why I add in another strategy: looking for the pleasure in the practice itself, not just in the progress. I may not love how I’m sounding when I play my guitar but I do love singing along. I may not love going out for a run but I do love having some alone time.
What pleasure can you find in your practice? Even if you don’t love your painting, can you love communing with colour? The feel of the brush on the page? The dance you create as you move that brush?
Tapping into that pleasure will help you practice with persistence, develop your creative gifts and enjoy yourself along the way!