Are You Enjoying The Journey?


Not the band Journey, who we can all agree are awesome, but your own personal artistic journey.  

It's Not The Destination, But The Journey That Matters Most

You don't read statements much more cliched than that, but cliches become cliches for a reason.  

"And so, does the destination matter?  Or is it the path we take?  I declare that no accomplishment has substance nearly as great as the road used to achieve it.  We are not creatures of destinations.  It is the journey that shapes us.  Our callused feet, our backs strong carrying the weight of our travels, our eyes open with the fresh delight of experiences lived."  -From The Way of Kings by Brandon Sanderson

I came across this passage while reading this week and it knocked me on my ass. We focus too much on accomplishments.  We set goals and work hard at achieving them.  The downside to this mindset is that we rarely feel satisfied or happy when we accomplish a goal.  We're always looking ahead to the next thing that is supposed to make us feel fulfilled, but we never get there. 

I've been recording a fan favorite song that folks have been bugging me to record for months.  I haven't been enjoying the process.  I've been afraid that I'm not doing the song justice, or that people aren't going to like it.  I've been too focused on the destination, not the journey.  

Coming across that Brandon Sanderson passage has helped me to change my mindset and focus on the joy of creating, not on the product.  

Tell me about your own journey by replying in the comments below.  

Now I'm off to form a new band called Destination.  We're going to sing songs about small town girls and city boys.

Have a great week!
John Anealio


31 comments:

  1. It is a challenge. I am enjoying the journey - mostly. Occasionally I feel that I need to reach destinations. Endlessly slogging forward without any visible sign of accomplishment gets old really quickly, even if I can see that I am making progress in the long run. I've had to give up on playing the guitar (again) for a while. I am thinking of trying to realize something from my photography. I've put a lot of work into it in the past ten years, but haven't actually gotten to the point of printing posters, framing prints and so forth. Meanwhile, I keep knitting washcloths, because they are small, quick, and look pretty when they are done. Just for the record, I am a disabled mother of six, which means I have very little time for pursuits beyond basic survival and coping with whatever the latest family catastrophe may be. Still, I soldier on. :-) I'm not sure what my eventual destination is, besides kids grown and on their own. Each day is it's own journey. I hope you are enjoying yours.

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    1. Thanks! I think it's important to have a direction. What I've been discovering for myself is to try and get the most out of what is presented to me, rather than slavishly adhering to my goals. It becomes drudgery.

      Glad to hear that you are continuing on with your projects and raising your family (which is our most important job). I am enjoying my journey, I just need to remind myself once in a while. :-)

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  2. I have also slowed down considerably, temporarily stopping other projects because they began piling up too much; I was becoming stressed and overwhelmed. I'll probably pick some up in the summer when school ends (we homeschool), but I really do enjoy the journey.

    Right now, aside from a post here or there, my main project is my ongoing serial. I only do one installment a week of less than a thousand words so that its both easy to keep up with and easy to follow. I've written ahead a bit and right now I'm having so much fun writing the wacky superhero bits. When I want to do something different I go to this site http://sixminutestory.com/ and write to a random prompt, which is really fun. It's so short that it doesn't take much time and I don't feel guilty about not working on other things, and my day is invariably better when I get my daily writing in.

    I'm also a knitter, but an EXTREMELY slow one due to back problems (if I do it for more than a few minutes at a time). I'm also fairly new at it, so I'm constantly undoing rows that I screw up and reknitting them. As a result, it takes me months to finish simple projects. I started a scarf over two months ago that was supposed to be a mother's day gift, but I think it's going to end up a Xmas gift instead. That's fine though. I really enjoy making it. I especially like, as the previous poster said, that you can see your progress and that its pretty, albeit incomplete. I really enjoy the color and texture of the yarn.

    So, this was wordier than I intended, but yes, I'm enjoying the journey. I especially love, 'Don't stop Believin'.' :D

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    1. Hey Cathy,

      Glad to hear that you are enjoying writing your serial. Those types of creative formats often work well for me. Happy to hear that it is working for you. Good luck with it.

      The knitting sounds good too. I focus totally on the music, and I've often considered taking on another discipline (maybe writing or drawing) so I don't burn on music. Tim Ferris calls it "ego diversification", meaning, "don't wrap your ego" around one pursuit, better to have a few different pursuits so we don't burn on one. Makes sense. Still haven't done it though. :-)

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  3. My goal is to do something creative each weekend. I work all week doing techie stuff, and had spent all weekend doing household chores. I had little to show that I was living my life. Thanks to your challenge, I decided to start painting again. I had a book titled "Learn Chinese Brush Painting" that came with the materials (most of them) and am working through it each week. (You may have seen me post the results on FaceBook and Google+). If I skip a week, it's because I was doing come other creative thing (like dancing with my English Country Dance group).
    I have been learning to enjoy the journey. I would not try things unless I knew I could succeed. As I have learned from NaNoWriMo, it is OK to suck. So it is OK to let people see my less than perfect paintings. It's OK to sit down and paint even though there are dishes in the sink, or laundry to fold. It will still be there when I am done painting.
    So I can answer the question: What did you do this weekend? I tried to make something beautiful.

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    1. HI Marilyn! Glad to hear that the challenge has enabled you to try something new. And it is okay to suck, and it is okay to work on your art when there are chores to do. (these are two things that I need to tell myself more often.)

      We should all try to make something beautiful, every weekend.

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  4. Spending time with my friend while continuing my zombie love song has been a great journey. Taking much longer than expected, but hey, no rush.

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    1. Great to hear Rebecca! Can't wait to hear the song when it's finished.

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  5. Hi John et al,

    When I get into the zone, and my writing flies out of my fingertips, it is a high. In those instances I don't really notice--or care-- where I'm going.

    However, as I writer I try to follow Heinlein's Rules (http://www.gazetteofthearts.com/writer3.htm). Other people have expanded on various rules, or added more to the list, but these are the core rules every writer must follow in order for your writing to be other than just a hobby.

    Rule number two: "You must finish what you write". In that case, you *must* focus on the destination: writing "THE END" at the bottom of a page. It doesn't necessarily have to be the ending you conceived of; maybe the story changes as you write it, so in that case it is the journey, but the destination is equally important.

    I know this from experience. I have at least a half-dozen NoNoWriMo novels that I've started and not completed.

    I'm sure that Heinlein's Rules can apply equally well to almost any other creative endeavor.

    Overall, I've enjoyed my journey as a writer, but Like you, John, I feel that I should try something else. For years I've contemplated taking up drawing. I've also been interested in working with 3-D graphics programs, mainly to create covers for my novels

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    1. Hey Paul,

      I totally agree with finishing what you start. I think it separates feeling like a pro versus feeling like an amateur. I was moved to write this essay because I've had an idea of "where I'm supposed to be" for a long time. I feel like I was too focused on heading "where I was supposed to be" and began to lose sight of why I'm creating in the first place.

      It's a subtle shift of focus, but an important one for me.

      Good luck with your writing and your other artistic endeavors!

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  6. I'm enjoying trying to write better essays. I'm a little disturbed about the topic sometimes -- this entry (posted just this morning) is about choosing which species to save. That's hard to enjoy writing or thinking about.

    http://www.brenda-cooper.com/2013/05/19/backing-into-eden-chapter-8-do-we-save-the-whales-or-the-mud-snails

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    1. Thank you for sharing that excellent essay with us Brenda!

      Enjoying isn't always the right word either. I don't think we always need to enjoy our work, but we do need to have a feeling of satisfaction with it, while we're working on it. I think satisfaction is more important than enjoyment.

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  7. I mostly enjoy the journey, but then again maybe it's easier for me to do so, because I have never known what my destination is. I wish I did.

    Life has taught me that something can be learned from every bump in the road, and that yes, other decisions could have been made in your past, but that would mean you wouldn't be quite the person you are now, and I think most of us are pretty good people at this moment in time. :-)

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    1. Excellent advice Ingrid!

      I'm of the opinion that when you don't make a decision, you actually are, so you might as well make a choice and live with it. You can always change your mind later.

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    2. Absolutely. Choosing not to choose is also a choice. I've found, however, it is rarely the correct one.

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  8. I think I err more in having few or no specific goal in mind. I'm like driftwood sometimes. I have lots of little projects going on but no specific place I'm headed though. I do enjoy the road though. A lot. I think I prefer it here than at the "finish" line. At least as it pertains to podcasting/voice over work, I think I would benefit from more focus on what I want to achieve (which would be to get paid work consistently).

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    1. I hear you Diane. I tend to be too goal driven, which I think has prevented me from enjoying my work and discovering opportunities that may have presented themselves if I was more open. I'm sure there's a nice balance for everyone.

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  9. My actual accomplishments have been so few and far between lately that if I wasn't enjoying the journey, I would have to quit. I did accomplish one of my New Year's resolutions last month, by publishing the new edition of my short-story book. But I don't feel really satisfied with that accomplishment because A) I feel like I should be working harder on something new instead and B) nobody but me has shown any interest in the finished product. The original journey of writing the stories was enjoyable, and so far that's the only reward I've gotten from it. If I didn't even have that, I would quit writing.

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    1. Hi Trina,

      I understand. It's a bummer when you work hard at something, are happy with the product, and no one seems to notice. I think everyone feels that way. You start to question why you are doing it. Long ago, I took the mindset that I'm creating this body of work for my own enjoyment and for my legacy for my son. When he's older and hates my guts, he may look back at some of the music that I made and think that I'm not so bad. :-) Or he may just think I'm a total dork. Either way, it feels good to think that he may discover my music for himself one day.

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    2. I love that way of looking at it, because I feel like most people don't even read my stuff anyway, no matter if its good or not. I like the idea that my son may read my stuff later and enjoy that I wrote about superheroes and mad scientists. It's part of his inheritance.

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    3. Exactly. My dad isn't an artistic person, but if I discovered an album that he recorded, or a novel that he wrote, how cool would that be?

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  10. I do tend to get pretty focused on goals and struggle with stopping to smell the roses and appreciate the things I've accomplished. One thing that's helped has been tracking my progress in a spreadsheet. I track the hours spent on editing my novel or the number of words I add to a new project. When I start to feel frustrated, it helps to look back and realize that even though I'm not at the end of a particular project, I've accomplished a lot.

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    1. That's an excellent idea Jessica! I may have to steal that one for myself. Thanks for chiming in.

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  11. I love that this revelation came from The Way of Kings, because I've been reciting part of the creed of the Knights Radiant to myself for awhile now: "The journey before the destination."

    I've been having some big lessons in this lately. I'm coming out of a long illness and wanting to leap forward with my writing and art projects to get out there and build my career, but I keep having to pull myself back to work at the pace my health can handle. This is frustrating, especially while watching so many others having successes, but I'm learning that the journey even to get to the career is something amazing. I'll bring all the unique flavors and wisdom gained from my journey into my projects when I reach the career road, and in the meantime, I'm just enjoying creating when I can, how I can. I think there's magic in overcoming the obstacles you encounter on the road.

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    1. Definitely.

      I think the personal and family struggles that we go through make us who we are. That's what informs our art, weather directly or indirectly.

      Best of luck with everything Holly!

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  12. Hey, John.

    Out of curiosity, given the sentiment of this post, have you seen the Masters of the Universe movie? ;)

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    1. Years and years ago. What's the connection?

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    2. "Good Journey" and the philosophy that its the journey that counts, are apparently a thing on Eternia, at least as clumsily described at the end of the movie...

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    3. I see. We can derive philosophy lessons from anywhere. :-)

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  13. Sometimes the destination matters. I tend to be heavily goal-oriented, so I actually needed this reminder to enjoy the trip. Thanks.

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    1. Oh, the destination totally matters. I just realized that I should focus on what I'm doing, not where I'm going.

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