When my friend, Jen, whom I have actually only met in real life twice, announced on her blog that she was starting an online Creative Summer Camp (CSC) under the umbrella of No is for Wimps, I jumped at the chance to be part of the testing group. I am always looking for ways to bring creativity into my life – daily lab work seldom nurtures my creative side and I am usually happier when I’m planning a sewing project or making a gift. As my CSC project, I decided to focus on picking up my French horn again (after a 5 year hiatus!) in the effort to have a creative thing that was doable over the six week course and sustainable in the long term.
I started out so strong in weeks 1-3 setting reasonable goals and following through, but then in weeks 4-5 hit a wall a little bit and so week 6 was about realizing why it happened. I think that I have historically been much more of a project starter than a project finisher (half painted walls in my house, half knitted things of all varieties, a bottle of apple juice I have been meaning to ferment for cider for months), and CSC really made me think a lot about why that is.
I’m not sure I have any conclusions so far, but one thing that I get really hung up on is that if I’m not making huge leaps, it doesn’t really count as progress. This way of thinking about it is very black and white and not the least bit helpful because it usually means that I start out really strong, get busy with other things, the progress slows down and then I feel like, “Why should I even bother with this thing?!” What’s worse is that my rigidity can extend to other areas of my life (most notably my PhD and my marriage!) and seeing it revealed through the process of interacting with the CSC community has been a really big impetus for growth for me.
Two things that I’ll really take away from Camp are the importance of 1) making tiny, incremental, accomplishable goals and 2) remembering that just realizing that something needs to happen doesn’t mean that all of the roadblocks to it happening are just going to disappear (for more on this concept see Nick Crocker’s blog). Tiny goals that I complete can still be crossed off the list; incremental progress is still progress.