15 September 2010

Show, don't tell

Illustration for PAWI writing club

Artists tend to know this concept intimately: show, don't tell. Writers are beseeched to embrace it, but art is all about showing, even when work like Nancy Spero's The Torture of Women from 1976 includes jarring, typewritten layers of text. 

In conversation yesterday with Julie Tallard Johnson, we talked about her book The Wheel of Initiation and stating intention for creative work. 

Stating intention is like showing instead of telling, being clear on why you choose to be present in this moment.

Being mindful is, like Diana Baur talks about in her post A Case for Mindfulness"the practice of not missing out on your life because you were too fragmented to really notice.  If there is no other case to be made for mindfulness, it would be this fact alone."

Having an interest in, and studying mindfulness, is much different than being present. Mindfulness outside of my creative work does not come easy. One ear on the kids and while I try to focus on whatever task I have set out before me. Half-listening while I'm thinking of everything I want to get done. High sensitivity to sensory overload. I go into my work with such intensity that everything outside of it can sound like one long clanging bell trying to get my attention that I tune out.

Hmm.

That's a whole lot of telling, not showing. And several really good, clever excuses to avoid being mindful. Sounds a lot like Steven Pressfield's definition of resistance in The War of Art

What holds you back from being mindful?

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