There’s a popular tradition this time of year to make resolutions as if the date of January 1 somehow holds significance above any other first day of the rest of your life. I suppose, in fairness, that for some people the new year provides the opportunity to commit, finally, to getting on with something and hopefully sticking to it. If this is you, then by all means get on with it already. Once you cross that threshold, however, you must ask yourself: what is the plan to keep it going from here?
I heard a quote recently which stated that “success is entirely dependent upon consistency of purpose.” I believe the key word here is “consistency.” Nothing is more consistent than daily practice, but before our mind slips off into some other distracted thought about how boring daily effort can be, note very quickly that the intent of this effort is success. Diligence, in other words, breeds success. And whatever your definition of success, it is primarily through a diligent effort that your success will come. Think about how diligent you may have already been up to this point being utterly inconsistent. I imagine you’ve been wildly successful at being unsuccessful, am I right?
The thing about the creative life – that is, living with creative purpose, as an artist of one or many sorts – is that the creative urge is already constantly present. Even when we do nothing about it there are thoughts, ideas, images, and inspirations coursing through us with their own energy. Our goal as creatives is to cast our net and collect a few of these things as they pass by, to do this every day, even if only in play, or by making small notes. Part of the creative life is being the conduit for expression of the whims of the subconscious and, depending on your cosmic views, the messages of god, or the visions of the Universe. We give ourselves too much credit to think we are the sole originator of creation, and in realizing that we are more so the stewards of creative eloquence, stewards of the gift of artistic expression which we allow to pass through us, we realize, too, that we have an obligation to continue our work without ceasing. So god speaks, so we listen and do that bidding.
Our resolutions are not something to make once per year with a weak hope that somehow they will stick to us without effort on our part. No, we must resolve to commit daily to the creative process, commit to allowing the vespers of creative vision to flow over and through us, in obedience to a higher calling to the life of beauty, of art, and of expression. This is how we must think of these things. The artist is blessed by a certain magic, a mystical spirit that is invisible to some, frightening to others. The greatest grievance the creative person makes is to neglect this spirit and do nothing, to grow bored and dismiss the calling as whimsy. Of course it is whimsy! Creation is play, it is discovery and enlightenment. But creation is also serious, deserving of proper treatment and all of our effort.
Our resolutions should be made daily, with no mind of the years that go by, nor of the hours we spend fulfilling our duty to the creative life. Rest, play, live – but always, always return to the creative work. Dabble, pick, start and stop, then go forward. Persevere and be bold. Wake committed, in the smallest, most guarded part of your mind, to do something creative this day and the next, and the next beyond that. Be resolved, as you said you would. Do not count the cost.