Preface to this post: In an earlier version of this website I often wrote much more free-form. That free-form writing was appreciated by many readers, most of whom were polymath leaders in business, or artists, or consultants, or a combination. And in following the advice of this question below, I’m returning somewhat to that style, full-on, with a shiver of delight and a smile.
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I heard about this idea of a creative “plateau” and I was like, “Oh, that sounds familiar.” Have you heard about this, in a project or wanting to do something that’s a “long-arc” project that goes on for a time? The idea that one works and works and works and it’s fun and engaging and then…. not done yet, need to do more work, but the excitement has plateaued, or there’s a long section until the next uphill. Like in writing a book, was the example I heard. And I heard this metaphor and I was like, “Oh, I’ve had that!” many times. I even thought about it as a plateau on a mountain, back when I was acting and when I decided to stop acting, I felt like I’d reached a plateau, and saw this really big mountain up ahead that I didn’t even know was going to be there, so much more to go! So much more could be done! Ahhhh! And with producing back in 2001 even in the middle of what was only a six month project or so, there was a point when I started adding on another project! The advice I read yesterday was stay with clear vision, go back to the vision of why did it in the first place, and instead of adding new creative things in some other area, go back to the vision, and refocus, clarify that.
I wish they taught about that in school, getting through plateaus… “Craft” class in playwriting was about working through plateaus in playwriting… and it worked, as training. I wish they taught that in every area, as a life skill. I don’t think it was even mentioned in the psychology classes I took. In fourth grade that was explorer year, we had covered wagons in the common area and played a game that lasted the whole year. And sometimes there were plateaus, and we made it across. But there was a definite goal to it, we were going somewhere, we were crossing America going west to California. And real life isn’t so definite, usually, I don’t think, except in my dreams :) We knew when we got there. So I think things like time limits for projects are good, projects within projects, and as many measurables as possible for vision, but I think life is more like writing a play or something, where we want it to be “better” but maybe not sure what that is, or if we are sure (and can we be, really?), rewriting Act III means rewriting Act I, and will that be a different play entirely… and that play will also need its Act III rewritten… and so life becomes working on Acts I through III, revising, revising, re-envisioning, re-envisioning… and I would like a metaphor, I think that’s what isn’t taught nowadays, or since World War II or whatnot generally, seems to be how to go through long-arc things that go on and on and are creative, even though there are plateaus, and no clear map, and the idea that that is okay and even good.