It is for the long run.
We hear this phrase often in the context of relationships. Makes sense. But, we’ve experienced it otherwise. Projects that last years. Three, maybe even five. And not because these projects are dragging. They are just meant to be long-term ones, which have called on all of our skills to keep them thriving. It is a form of commitment we have journeyed through. So, at a milestone date for one of the projects we are committed to, we stepped back to take a clear look at the creative process we experienced.
Here’s how the marathon has been, in three simple steps.
- It wasn’t clear skies and sunshine on all days. While a long-term project brings much security in terms of dedicated work, creative challenges, and financial stability, it also brings with it the same tango a relationship has. Days of feeling stuck with the topic at hand. Many moments of just being ready to drop it all. A level of feeling uninspired, with a dose of unwillingness to make an effort. You get the picture, right? Motivation is fickle.What did we do on these days of low motivation? We’ll quote J.K. Rowling, author of Harry Potter, “The harshest critic is often inside your own head. These days I can usually calm that particular critic down by feeding her a biscuit and giving her a break, although in the early days I sometimes had to take a week off before she’d take a more kindly view of the work in progress.”
- And in all this, we would have moments of clarity. The clouds would part, and we’d stumble on an idea that would carry us for a few weeks. The muse would show up. We would feel enlightened with witty one-line headings, or fresh words that would offer a new lease of life to the technical language of data-driven businesses. We could let go of ‘agile’, ‘digital transformation’, and even ‘data-centric’.Initially, we thought such moments were fleeting. And we had no control over it. But we were wrong. This inspiration had more to do with the act of showing up every day to figure out the writing process, than to be ready with the perfect blog pitch or video script, which wouldn’t need any edits.
Says Steven Pressfield in his book ‘The War of Art’, “Henry Fonda (of ‘12 Angry Men’ fame) was still throwing up before each stage performance, even when he was seventy-five. In other words, fear doesn’t go away. The warrior and the artist live by the same code of necessity, which dictates that the battle must be fought anew every day.”
- How did we fight the battle each day? Owing to the years of experience under our belt, we’ve realized that on some days we are allowed to write the worst junk ever written. We may not send it to our clients, but the endless drafts being sent back and forth between our writers is a testament to this permission we gave ourselves. Only with this approach of writing have we found what we actually want to say.It is a bit like learning meditation. The mind runs with thoughts, and we keep bringing it back to the breath. We keep bringing it back to the breath. Of course, in all this, lies relentless reading, and ruthless feedback.
And voila, a project hits the 4-year mark, we come back to a blank page and present this process to you.