‘Does this help?’ That’s usually what teachers ask when we’ve discussed my work. I used to not know what to answer but about six months ago I figured it out. ‘I don’t know yet, but I’m sure it’ll help me in a week’.
I need some time to let things trickle down to my ‘unconscious’. When I talk about my work with someone and they have something to say about it, I always need a bit of distance from the work and from the person to figure out what I want to do with their feedback. It’s very rare that I get an epiphany there and then. I recently read an article about incubation that confirm what I had figured out.
For the past week I’ve felt lost, overwhelmed and frustrated. I didn’t know why and I didn’t know what to do about it. All I knew is that I had a ton I wanted to do (as always) but the idea of it all paralyzed me instead of invigorating me. I remember a time when I was a kid in Egypt where I had to clean my room. The room was too messy and I didn’t know where to start. The big mess overwhelmed me and instead of cleaning up, I was stuck. After not doing anything for some time, I just started with something. What the start was didn’t matter, the idea of just starting was what mattered. For years, that has been the moment that I think of when I have feel overwhelmed and don’t know where to start. It doesn’t matter where you start, as long as you just start.
This week, I think I’ve added something else to that story. It still doesn’t matter where I start, I just have to start somewhere. Just like Martin Venezky says in It Is Beautiful… Then Gone: Know the next step, not the destination [full quote]. But not only that, when I have started, I have to give myself some room to breathe too. I have to let all of the impulses around me sit in. Instead of just starting and continuing until I’m exhausted and hoping it leads somewhere, I have to start and stop. Repeatedly.
Gathering information is often a good first step but if you don’t take the time to reflect on what you’ve gathered and just continue gathering, you won’t get very far.