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Working with Time

Time is a major consideration when we are creating something new. Materials, space, even collaborators and money are also important, yes. And yet these elements can be managed or shifted or even done without, altogether. Time, and its passing, we can’t control. But we can make time work for us. If you can understand how to work with time as part of your creative process, it can be a great companion. Setting a time frame for your work and then working with time to meet your benchmarks will bring up some feelings along your path. You may feel:

A) Confident

B) Anxious

C) Overwhelmed

D) Terrified

E) Excited

F) any combination of the above Yesterday, I spoke with a friend who is making a new dance theater piece. She knows she needs two years to make this new piece. That is the amount of time it takes for her to express the full arc of her creative process. Two years. The first year, she thinks about it. She journals. She captures big, wild ideas. She listens to stand-up comedy. She starts to move her body in a rehearsal room. The second year begins with a work-in-progress showing at a venue. She presents another showing mid-year. She gets feedback from both of these public events. She premiers the work at the end of the second year. It sounds tidy, right? She has her shit together, right? It’s true that my friend is a skillful task master. But she can’t control time any better than the rest of us. She will still grapple with all the ways time still isn’t working. She will still feel like there is not enough time. She will feel like it won’t be good-enough or ready-enough at any one of those junctures. But she trusts her process because she’s done it this way for decades, and she knows it works for her. And because of that proof and her desire to create - she takes the risk of committing to dates. T-minus for her is now just ONE YEAR. She finished her first work-in-progress showing last week. An actress who I recently interviewed for my book (which, BTW is now T-Minus eight months to publishing!) said that she knows that when she feels terrified, that it could also be her body telling her that she is excited. And so when she feels what she interprets as terror before she goes on stage, for instance, she remembers that she might also be excited about what she gets to do next. And what she gets to do next is experience living her creative life at the edge of time. Because now she has met time where it stands: T-minus ZERO. She is now liberated from time itself for those moments where she is no longer anticipating this moment and not planning for the next one. She is 100% in the current moment, and she feels alive.

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