Let's get started with: making the most of your Guido crisis.
I have a confession to make. The last few months, along with a slew of other things, I've been a big baby. Instead of admitting I didn't have the joie de blog necessary to keep this train a-rollin', I just went M.I.A. This was...probably not a good choice. Instead of going wax poetic on the excuse wagon and being like "I took some time off to do some soul searching" (which...kind of happened?) I'm going to be blunt: I was having a Guido crisis.
Marcello Mastroianni really gets me.
For those of you unfamiliar with Fellini's 8 1/2, it's a movie where the protagonist, Guido, is having money thrown at him to make his next movie. In the process of him trying to figure out what he wants to say, he ends up ruining his life. Now, I'm not here to say that a Guido crisis is having cobwebs in your brain and burning all the good things because of it, a Guido crisis is simple: You don't know what to say.
I have an issue with this because when I was younger, the main answer to this problem for me was to say as much as possible until I found something worth saying. Lately I've come to realize that...maybe it's not the best idea.
So, let's say you-- like me are having a dreaded Guido crisis. You feel like people are anxiously awaiting your next breath; or in my case, believe that no one gives a shit what you have to say, and therefor don't feel like saying anything at all.
STEP 1: IDENTIFY THE SOURCE OF YOUR GUIDO CRISIS.
Take stock of your life right now: is there anything that's preventing you from "saying something"? (In my case, saying something equates to doing creative work, or writing blog posts. For you, it may be something different.)
- Have you been super busy lately?
- Is making time to work on things difficult for you?
- Are you worried about measuring up to either yours, or other people's expectations?
This for me is always the hardest part. It forces you to sit down and examine why you're having an issue, which, more often than not doesn't have a simple answer. My Guido crisis was a smoothie of being discouraged, uninspired, and confused. (As to what people wanted, what I wanted, how I could get my hands on a vintage hospital bed and turn it into a day bed, and the least creepy way to propose my undying love to academy award winner Sissy Spacek.) Not to mention thinking about re-prioritizing is so stressful. Right?
STEP 2: DEEP BREATHS.
Dude, Guido crises are kind of the worst. Don't feel bad because you haven't been as on top of things as you could be, you're a human being. If you're not dead, then it's not the end of the world. Sometimes we just need to take a break from things for awhile. It's ok.
I know that sometimes when you know what you're capable of, and then look at what you're actually doing, it can be frustrating as hell. This is honestly something I struggle with all the time. Make peace with where you're at, try not to fight with what brought you there, and try to make a conscious effort to do better in the future.
STEP 3: MAKE AN OUTLINE.
Before you look at me with a question mark on your face, I'm coming at this as a writer. When I write things, before I write things, it -always- helps me to have an outline. I'm not going to get into the outline debate because honestly that's a whole other post which just boils down to semantics and finding what works best for your process. In the case of a Guido crisis, let's look at an outline like a 'to-do' list. I'm also a huge proponent of new year's resolutions, but I guess people are calling those bullshit now as well.
I'm not coming at this saying you should have a to-do list/resolutions/outline that says things like:
- Cure cancer in two weeks!
- Learn how to function with no sleep while speaking in all ASL and thinking in Hungarian!
- Design the next award winning power femme accessory!
- Write the 21st century's great American novel!
- And the no doubt Oscar winning screen adaptation!
If you've followed the numbering of this list, chances are you've figured out (or at least started to figure out) what the cause of your Guido crisis is, right? Instead of thinking you can solve your problem in one fell swoop, try and come at it with small, attainable goals. For example, if you're worried about not knowing what to write about (aside from combing through some weekend writing prompts) you may want to make a goal that's something like: "I'm going to do Morning Pages every day for one week."
Even then, you don't have to follow anyone else's idea of an attainable goal. Perhaps you're a poet, and instead of going for something as abstract as morning pages, you say like, "I'm going to write three stanzas of poetry, (regardless of how much they reek) every day, for a week."
Or, "I'm going to do (____INSERT YOUR IDEA OF AN ATTAINABLE GOAL HERE___) every (___INSERT LENGTH OF TIME___) for (___INSERT ANOTHER LENGTH OF TIME___)."
Keep in mind it takes 28 days to form a habit, and we are always our own worst critics. Making peace with how much we're going to think we suck at something is really, REALLY hard. In fact, that's been a huge part of my personal Guido crisis, is that I have this weird idea that I won't be able to formulate what I think I want to say into something vaguely comprehensible and concise.
Here's the other deal, no one else has to be privy to your outline/to-do list or its results unless you want them to. The thing is, as artists, (and people) we're kind of embodiments of that quote by Samuel Beckett:
Ever tried. Ever failed. No matter. Try Again. Fail again. Fail better.
Another thing that used to give me a lot of anxiety was looking back on my old work and realizing what a shitpile it was. I would be confused because I would look at something and be like "Wow, I thought this was decent at the time..." Which lead me to wonder if things I thought were decent now, actually were just things in the shitpile. My friend Hannah helped me shift my focus:
Look how far I've come.
That was the phrase I needed. It's not about wallowing in your "perpetual state of suck", but measuring your progress with a positive lens. When you're wondering if you're going to be stuck forever, or if your work is going to suck nads forever, I hate to be "that guy" but don't give up-- just. Keep. Working.
By all means, do take a breath, and some time to evaluate where you're at; and if you need a break for awhile, just take a break for awhile.
The frustration is like everything else, it too shall pass.
Because the holidays come with what I see as a lot of forced gratitude, I wanted to take this time, after the holidays, to make a playlist of songs I was very thankful for in 2013. Hopefully musically, your 2013 was grand; and hopefully your 2014 is even more grand!
Click to listen~~~ enjoy the bonus Barbara Lahr!