new ways of navigating familiar territory, pt. 2: PRACTICE and PROCESS
last we left off, Nisalda had resolved to come up with and implement ten new habits / strategies / techniques / practices. this month, she comes to terms with deconstructing unsupportive methods, female tropes, and the unsustainability of relying on spontaneous creation.
Practice makes perfect. An old piece of wisdom in life and craft, perhaps even a law for creatives. I've broken some laws, not the least being this one. I'll be the first to admit that I can be a real slacker when it comes to preparation. My excuse was always something along the lines of "I work better under pressure" or "I'm good at winging it," the latter which really means, "I'm good at bullsh*tting." Honestly, I lack self-discipline. This makes me insecure because women are expected to be able to multi-task. Women are good at planning and getting things done. Women are responsible. Most times, I don't feel like I'm any of those. So what does that make me, a turnip?
In most aspects of life, I simply get by. I live my life on a day-to-day basis, tackling each moment as it comes. Is that really something I'm proud of? Maybe a little, but it's not something to celebrate. While I'm glad I can figure things out on a whim, I feel like I'm not really growing or strengthening in any particular area. I'm skipping out on doing real work. Sure, it's fun to test my creative wit, and it secretly gases my head up a little when I receive praise or validation for something I just threw together. But then I feel facile*, like I'm missing out on profound growth or possible discovery that comes with process. I'd rather be able to say I apply time, skill and practice to everything I do, therefore gaining maximum insight and experience.
So, I decided to start this assignment with the simplest, yet most important task: Set an intention. I still want to set a different one each day, but for the sake of this exercise, I need a constant. That constant will be practice. Not just the act, but the understanding and implementation of it. For so long, I only thought of practice as a verb. I told myself I have to repeatedly do something to be better at it. Predictably, my lazy ass would be over it after doing it twice, especially if it was something I had to learn. Why? Because I have the attention span of a squirrel, but mostly because I was forgetting the other meaning of the word. I didn't think of practice as a noun, as a value. Now, I'd like to approach it differently. It's no longer a chore, it's structure. It's a way of establishing habit and competence which in turn yields familiarity and confidence in a particular endeavor. When we work for something, truly earn it, it feels good. It builds that confidence we need to feel worthy and not be afraid to put out our work.
So far, so… interesting. I feel like I'm off to a shaky start with this because I have to create or break some habits first. Turns out, the whole process sucks. I know what rewards and benefits await me when I decide to step in that direction, but wouldn't I rather stay in bed an extra hour? Of course. And I'll tell you, the number of ways my brain justifies snoozing longer is just silly. In a matter of seconds I ponder a series of inspirational quotes I've read:
They say nothing in life is guaranteed but the present moment.
Sleep is the best meditation.
Back to basics.
I mean, at that point, I'm only inspired to stay in bed. How can I clear this first hurdle?
Maybe I'll conjoin this task and the task to wake up at the same time each day. Isn't that a practice? A habit? Yes. Let's try that. It's important that I follow through with this one. For obvious reasons, I mean come on… It's the very first task! (0 for 1, Nisalda. Get it together.) But also because I need this. For me, it shrinks doubt and allows me to identify with being a creative. This is something I've always struggled with. I often feel like I'm not a true artist when there's no process. I sometimes lack inspiration and feel like I have to travel or get lost to regain it when really I should be working on myself. I should be practicing. What better way is there to grow? It's time to give more than elementary effort and dig deep. Explore the vastness of my potential. Live fully and make the most of my reality. It starts within. In the mundane. In routine. In practice. I just need someone to hold my hand and walk me through it. Now accepting volunteers.
*can a person be facile? [ed. note: totally! :)]
Nisalda Gonzalez was born in Brooklyn, NY to Dominican parents and raised in the cow fields and woods of central Florida. Her interests include acting, music, nature, art, travel and world culture.
Currently based in Los Angeles, follow this late bloomer and her adventures at: