Complete, stand-alone projects (Archived)

I love catching buses or trains. I build this into my weekly plan as a way to elicit creative thoughts and new ideas. There’s a freedom in not driving, in not needing to think. You can relax your mind completely, let it wander where it will. This raw, relaxed, curious-minded state often triggers off profound and reflective thoughts.

A few months ago I was on the bus taking a new route. It was filled with the usual souls, all wired up and plugged in, worlds narrowed to a screen.

There was a lady sitting behind me, listening to music and humming loudly. She was immersed in the flow of the music, her humming weaving into a bigger tapestry. For the rest of us, without the context of the music, her humming sounded ragged and half-formed.

The work we produce, whether we’re writers or artists or other creative types, is a lot like that woman’s humming. There’s a rich, broad, crystal clear landscape in our heads and our hearts and our emotions that is so vivid and complete to us. From this soup we need to scoop a short piece or product. We need to do it in a way that allows it to stand independent of the landscape that birthed it.

I loved the fact this woman was so immersed in her music that she was part of it, flowing along so intensely the spirit of the song resonated through her. This is exactly what we do as creative types: lost in that surge of creative energy, fumbling for a way to trap it imperfectly into a piece of writing, art or other product. This lady’s contribution was so clear to her in the context of what she was experiencing, but so different to the people seated inches away, denied the context of the music that birthed the sound.

Work we produce can seem so whole and shiny and complete, but how much of that relies on strings or scaffolding that an outside reader or viewer would not be privy to? Is our piece complete and independent? Does the emotion and understanding and perspective the piece stirs in its viewer/reader shape a complete form?

How often do we get feedback on our work? Do you have a trusted friend, reader, supportive soul with the skills to recognise and identify what is missing? This could be a writing group or a fellow artist or musician or mentor or someone who represents the consumer of the end product you are producing.

How open are we to the feedback we receive? How grateful and gracious and teachable are we when it comes to critiques and feedback on our work?

(Posted 13 Feb 2020. Follow me at:



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