By Paul Roberts
Last week I spent a little time in this blog space writing about the pleasure of getting back home after our trip to the Oregon coast, and how nice it was to get back to my regular, daily routine.
Well, that didn’t last long.
The bad news is that my morning routine, which I was so enjoying last Tuesday while I was writing about it, disappeared for most of the rest of the week. My priorities were such that I found myself struggling to write in my Sowing Seed journal consistently each morning, my normal non-fiction and poetry reading each morning went by the wayside, and I was often too tired when I climbed into bed at night to read much fiction.
The good news is that, despite the lack of routine, when I stepped back and looked at the week, I realized how much I had accomplished. I’ll resist the urge to recount all that got done (if you follow Carol on Facebook or Instagram, you’ve seen some of it already), but I do want to take a moment to remind myself - and you, dear reader - of the value of stepping back from the task from time to time, stepping away from the routine from time to time, and seeing things from a different perspective.
My art teacher (Claire Watson Garcia, author of Painting for the Absolute and Utter Beginner) has been trying to get me to step back and look at my work as a part of the process of doing the work. I have been reading her book more for the philosophy behind it than for the hands-on activities. Her thoughts on the process of painting a work of art could apply to any creative work.
I took a step back from the writing of a specific chapter or scene for my novel this last week and looked at the project from a distance. A bird’s eye view, you might say. It looked different when I looked at it as a whole. And it wasn’t half bad. I liked what I saw. The 6-ish chapters with several additional scenes turned into nine complete chapters that had some flow to it. How about that? Plus, I could see where I wanted to go next. Stepping back to get some perspective helped me do that.
I was reminded of the morning at the coast when I sat down with a pencil and my sketch book, and, dissatisfied with my attempt to draw a tree that looked like a tree, I tried something different. I stepped back from my sketch book by taking off my reading glasses (Claire says you can just try squinting). I quit obsessing over each and every detail of the image I wanted to draw. I let go of some fear and let my pencil do the work. Then I put my glasses back on to see my work. And it wasn’t half bad. I liked what I saw. How about that?
Carol and I are going to step back for some perspective this week. We’re going to use some time of quiet prayer and a bit of fasting to see if we can see life any clearer from…further away? Without our glasses? Through the eyes of the Creator?
Reminds me of a guy whose mantra for the year is "retreat to advance."
Are there projects you are working on where you need some new, fresh perspective? Take a step back, look at things from a different angle, then share your results with our creative community.
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