The ‘way’ to do it

This post was originally written over a year ago in response to another post I had writen for my friend Vineeta. Vineeta Nair needs no introduction on this blog. My regular readers will remember her from this post. She has an ongoing series on her blog – Artnlight on Inspirers‘. I am tickled pink that she considers me one. She asked me to  write about three things that get me to be who I am in my work and life. And a very heart felt post followed. I will share the link of that post as and when it is available. But what I wrote for Artnlight was ‘feel‘ based, on what makes me get up every morning and why.  And while that reads well in emotional terms I thought I would do a version of the ‘way‘ to do it.

This list is in no way exhaustive. It is what I could come up with in that one sitting. I will of course add to it as time goes by. I also shared the contents of this post at The Beachhouse Project earlier this year as a part of the ‘hack’ sharing session. I share it here with you in the hopes that you might find something of value to take away as well.

Here goes –

Know your goal – Knowing what you want to achieve and at what scale is important. Don’t fool yourself. Be true and honest with yourself. Is this piece that you want to work on craft, a one- off or is it something that you visualize as a series. Is it for money, for fame or for production. Is it collaborative.

Time management and discipline – Life rarely gives us the time to do things at leisure. Everyone has many balls in the air at any given time. I feel like a juggler on most days and sometimes I think I might even go into it professionally with the experience I have gathered over the years! Jokes apart – prioritize your day. Everyone has an optimum time of day when they work best on ‘thinking’ tasks on ‘mundane’ tasks or on ‘repetitive’ tasks. Figure out your time and slot tasks accordingly. Finish all low dependency tasks first. Answer emails right at the beginning of the day. Arrive just before time and stick to time- it shows respect for your time and the other persons. Make lists of what to do and more importantly of what not to.

Avoid procrastination – Procrastination is something that likely shows that you don’t have a plan to follow through. Identify the pain points of your passion and finish them first else you might derail the whole project.

Keep away from distractions – Easier said than done. But try. Limit Facebook and email time. Take the phone of the hook. Don’t answer the door bell. If you have given your self a time slot for work, then ‘work’ in that time.

Break it down into smaller chunks – It is rare for me to finish a very large canvas in one sitting. Although it has been known to happen but then I have paid the price in terms of a back ache or angry friends and family members! It is easier to take tasks and break them down into logical chunks and attack them in pre-slotted chunks of time.

Do your home work – Before you start work on a piece get all the spade work done. Think about how, why and when. Get your gear together. Make sure your gadgets are on hand. In case of painting – allow for drying time between coats.

Closure  – Find closure for all floundering relationships. One way or another. It helps move forward. Never end one on a fight – make peace. It allows to free up mind space that could be used for better things.

Allow for happy accidents – These happen all the time. Don’t fight it. Sometimes my best work as been a result of something going ‘wrong’ and not according to plan. Never mind. Work at it and improvise. Never waste anything. It sparks ideas across genres and leads to new ideas and fusion. Even in things like cooking and baking. Accidents can spark creativity.

Have cheers leaders – Friends and family who will help you keep going when you want to give up on a piece. Or when you are on a roll and need someone else to make chai or pick up the kids from school 🙂 But also allow for ruthless and honest feedback. Your cheers leaders should not be those that only tell you the good. They need to love you enough to tell you when you are stuck in a rut or when the work stinks and is not up to par.

Embrace all roles in your life   We each play many roles to many people. Embrace them all. Your interactions with people, places and things define you. They all have a role to play in your work.

Stay away from mediocrity – My question to myself has always been, ‘if I saw this elsewhere, would it pass muster?’ Today with social media it is easy to get sucked into the general feel good of well meaning friends telling you – that the sun shines out of your butt. Remember it is NOT true 🙂

Diversify like workouts – If you exercise the same muscle again and again, it either goes into spasm and fatigue or gets used to the workout. Variation is the key. The same way try and work in different mediums, with different subjects. Get out of your comfort zone.

Apni aukaat pata honi chayiye – And last but not the least, be ruthless in your critique of your self. Listen to what your gut tells you about your own work and your own place in the world. Don’t show the work to anyone if you don’t want to but finish it and then look at it. Honestly. Put the finished piece away for a while, get a little distance and then look at it again. Know your place in the grand scheme of things. Always. Aspire to grow but with a realistic image. Don’t let enthusiam exceed abilty…

I hope this was of some value to you all.If you more pointers and hacks please do send them to me so I can add them here. Thank you 🙂

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