Labeling is the addiction of your Ego. Defining is like drawing a circle around yourself and saying I can not go further.
We are constantly changing. Our blood, our brains, our memories, our experiences. Every moment we are a new self. Every day we aren't who we were but who we are, and by the end of this sentence you will be a different you.
Remember the moment, the phrase, the re-frame that you heard and instantly you were different and seeing the world through new eyes...
Defining yourself puts imaginary limits on real possibilities.
Instead, commit to knowing yourself. Knowing yourself is investigatory, it requires curiosity. Since we are changing every day - we must do this every day to be able to say I know myself.
Defining is the ego saying I am a writer. I am a woman. I am young.
Then you don't get the writing fellowship. You develop cancer and your lady bits get removed. You turn 40. (I personally have only had the first one happen to me.) You suffer, you are traumatized and then you make big life choices when you are depressed, detached, and fearful.
The ego is what produces anxiety and fear. Fear of reality conflicting with your ego labels. You are a Writer so you have anxiety about writing because if you don't you are not a writer.
If you do not label yourself a painter you will not have fear about painting because fuck it, you're not a painter, nothing is at stake, go ahead throw some paint on the canvas.
That's when you produce your best work.
If you want to create great art you must know yourself because all your characters/ painting/poems are fractured parts of your identity, your identity that is in constant development, and it is yourself you are putting on the page or canvas. The deepest universal truths of you, the dark shadows of societal repressions that perhaps only you are brave enough to throw up onto a screen so that others might look up and think I'm not the only one.
So stop limiting yourself.
Screw your ego and it's label maker.
If I wake and I sing, I sang. If I wake up and dance, I danced. If I paint, I paint. Then when someone asks are you an artist I can answer...this morning I sang, danced and painted. Let them label you if their ego needs to. But don't let other peoples label makers guide your actions.
Waiting is what boring people do while smart people are learning.
That's right folks there are 24 useable hours in a day. Here are 4 "dead zones" where I find time to do some of my best writing, research and continuing education.
1. Morning Routine
From the moment you open your eyes till the moment you leave your home for work (or play) you have minutes, possibly hours of free time.
Your morning routine is automatic. Get up. Pee. Brush teeth. Shower. Make toast. Pour coffee. Put on pants. Take off pants, put on underwear, put pants back on. Do hair. Put on Sunscreen (you should be wearing sunscreen, skin cancer sucks) Phone/Wallet/Keys. Exit.
These actions are unconscious habits, meaning you can actually pay attention to something else that does require your cognitive focus and get BOTH done. For example, I listen to my German For Beginners audio while I shower. You wouldn't think just 8 minutes a day of German is a lot but it has added up, es ist fantastisch!
Podcasts are a great way to not only expand your mind and knowledge during your morning routine but anytime you clean your home, do your laundry, organize your closet etc.
I LOVE my commute. I love it when the train gets stuck, because that means I get to listen to more of my audio book. I used to hate audio books because my mind so easily wandered but I stuck with it and have since fallen in love. I usually choose one educational text, perhaps from The Great Courses and one novel that I consider research for whatever script I am working on.
So if you are writing a story that takes place in the in early 1800's England, put on some Jane Austen and suddenly your dialogue and tone will naturally morph into awesomeness.
That's right, always be learning, even when you are catching some z's. If you spend the last five minutes before you fall asleep and the first five minutes you wake up journaling (about your story, character, teleportation device construction, ways to silence your mother-in-law, deconstructing those inner voices that cycle around and around in the back of your head all day) you will accomplish a lot of problem solving while you sleep.
Also, you will most likely see this information in images or metaphors (rather than thoughts) which is the most powerful and memorable way to learn (that's a whole other essay so stay tuned, I'll be writing about that later this summer).
This one is my favorite. Many of my writers complain, "But Jess, I don't have enough time to sit down and write." and you know what - they are right. Many of them can hardly find three hours a week between their two jobs, two dogs and Instagram addiction. But you don't need to be writing to be working on your story.
Your characters are always with you...helloooooo, they live in your head! So every moment of the day you can see and hear your characters. Next time you are at a boring meeting invite your character John who lives alone in the woods and hates everyone. Watch him react to this months sales decline, not only will you get to know John better but you also are less likely to fall asleep mid meeting and loose your job.
Yes, occasionally you will laugh out loud and people will think you are crazy....but you are a writer, if there are people out there who don't already think you are crazy then it's only a matter of time before they find out the truth.
So ABL! Always Be Learning.
The next time you groan and think "ugh I hate waiting" replace that sentence with "Woo hoo, now I get listen to my podcast on cross-stitching with my character Hannibal Lecter jr."
This week's inspiration is one of my favorite principles for increasing creativity. It also keeps you from being an asshole.
Always replace judgment with curiosity.
Judgment is walking into a room with no doors or windows...there is no where to go. Curiosity is an endless hallway of open doors.
The next time you catch yourself judging (a friend, a stranger, your own writing) stop. Replace that judgment with curiosity and see what happens. Do this consistently for a few weeks and it will start to become an automatic, unconscious action.
Our world's greatest artists, inventors and geniuses all have one thing in common. They all have been very curious people.
Start today. Right now. Replace Judgment with Curiosity.
Jess Hinds The Crass Shaman
The Crass Shaman
Written by a dyslexic, proof read by an apathetic foreigner.