On my last trip to London, I picked up a book called, “You will be able to draw by the end of this book.” 🙂 Slowly making my way through the exercises, I ran across this advice on p.29: “Get the overall shape of your subject drawn early, then refine your drawing, finding increasingly smaller shapes within that space.”
That’s how I’ve envisioned and brought to life so many of my dreams: Creating the rough outline and then setting out day after day to fill in and refine the component parts.
It really is that simple. Because here’s the thing: Everything in our physical reality has a form, a shape; our job is to imagine (or ‘image-in’) the form and then fill it in. It doesn’t take a special kind of ‘genius’ to do this. What it takes is a dogged day-in-day-out determination to express yourself the way only you can.
“If you knew how much work went into it, you wouldn’t call it genius. ” ― Michelangelo
You can think of it as FILLING IN YOUR POTENTIAL – stripping away excess and adding thoughtful detail as you move along.
Detail is important to me, so I often spend gobs of time on stuff maybe no one will ever care about… but to thoughtfully fill in those spaces lights me up with satisfaction – the kind of satisfaction that comes from being fully present with what or who is in front of me.
Whatever you decide to give your attention and energy to, remember that every time you focus on it – even in short bursts – you’re building that ‘accomplish anything’ muscle. So, schedule time for it, eliminate all other distractions, and get present with it.
And for those moments where you feel a little stuck, print and post this graphic somewhere to remember how to accomplish anything that’s important to you:
Let’s look at how it works in practice, using an example of a creative project like writing a book.
#1: Define the overall shape
So say you want, for example, to write and publish a book. Before ever writing my book, I asked a graphic artist friend of mine to create the cover. It wasn’t the cover I ultimately chose (even the title was completely different!), but it became the physical ‘picture’ (or shape) that I used as inspiration to keep moving forward. I also outlined my chapters in this phase. The chapters changed considerably in the process of writing, but that outline gave me a solid starting point. The last part of the shape was what it would look like to publish the book, who I wanted it to reach, whether I wanted to self-publish or go with a publishing house…. After some introspection and careful research, those lines also became clearer.
#2: Begin filling in the empty spaces
With those preliminary plans in place, I simply began filling in the details. It helped to ask questions, such as: What’s missing? What material is essential? What actions do I have to take to bring each chapter to life? Do I want to write from experience or research, or both? The answers to those questions led to content creation – word after word, page after page, revision after revision. Which brings me to the final insight…
#3: Keep plugging away (build the muscle)
When I think of that quote from Michelangelo above, I wonder if he ever really finished any of his awe-inspiring works, or whether he always approached his art as a work-in-progress. Because here’s the thing: there’s always more – more beauty, more love, more creativity, more ways to express and bring to life your gifts.
Start now! Set aside a chunk of time every morning (when you’re at your freshest) to dedicate yourself to accomplishing what’s most important to you. Allow yourself to get lost in the joy of creating something because YOU want to. We’re all waiting. 🙂
Join me in the comments below if you want to share the creative project you’re working right now!
And shoot us a note at firstname.lastname@example.org if you’d like a full-size version of the Define/Fill/Refine graphic above.
Blog photo credit: @plush_design_studio