CatchingWords.com: the beginner's mindset

Clarity after a long break, Part I: The beginner’s mindset

The good thing about long breaks (even if involuntary) from a regular routine is that they help us see the big picture of an activity, a life choice, a goal. They bring clarity. It’s been more than three months since I last posted here or worked on writing projects, and I have come to recognize a couple of things I’ll share with you in this and the next several posts. What I want to share has to do with the creative workflow as well as a few tips here and there that I’ve picked up or arrived to along the way.

But first, let me explain my absence. The reason is, in fact, lovely: I’m pregnant with twin girls and I can’t be happier. But I was also very morning (or rather all-day sick) for a good number of weeks. Looking at screens or even reading printed books made it even worse, so I had to take an involuntary clarity break from all I was doing and spend some time on the couch meditating next to a bucket. But now that looking at my computer doesn’t make me want to throw up anymore, I want to share with you the fruit of my meditations.

Coming back to writing and editing after such a long break makes me feel as if I’m doing everything for the first time. And this has made me realize how precious the occasions when we experience something for the first time are. Do you remember, for example, the experience of listening to a new album by your favorite music artist for the first time? Every new tune is a little firework of pleasure. It’s just not the same (though it’s still good) when listening to the album a second time. Same thing when rereading books or repeating roller coaster rides. The secondary buzz is different. Not that repetition is valueless, but it carries a different quality and depth.

Moments we do something for the very first time deserve to be cherished and internalized to their fullest. It will never happen again, you know: that first kiss, writing that first page of a novel, getting that first spark of an idea.

There is energy to these moments that we’ll do well to harness. I’m talking about the beginner’s mindset: this openness and flexibility that often dissipates when one gets too deep into a project. The beginner’s creativity is a special brand of creativity which I often need to remind myself to call back during the revision stage of a writing project. Structure and organization too have a place (and a very prominent one at that) in any workflow, but without that initial flexibility, I find it harder to accept the need for big overhauls or difficult changes. Not to mention that any kind of work is much more invigorating if our feet are not stuck in the rut.

In my next blog post, I’ll talk about ways I’ve found of preserving this initial creative energy during the long process of completing a project.

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