Yesterday I made a mistake and didn’t work on the novel I’m drafting. That went against Jerry Seinfeld’s wise advice to artists: “Don’t break the chain.”
I’ll get over it, but I don’t want to be too quick to say “Ah, it’s okay — I’m really busy” and move on. In my experience, it’s the breaking of chains of work that leads to so many problems for creators who have to balance the process of creation with a job, family, and other responsibilities.
Artists of all sorts need continuity in their creative work so that it can flow. They need many links in the chain to produce meaningful art. That challenge is magnified when much of the day is claimed by the job that pays the bills or family duties.
There are other chains that deserve continuity. Some examples:
- Taking care of your health.
- Connecting with your loved ones.
- Good housekeeping to keep your life in order.
- Enough rest.
- Quiet time for yourself.
But we can only keep so many chains going, because doing that requires focus and concentration — traits that can be strengthened, but that always hit a limit at some point.
My advice to myself, and to you: Choose just a few chains that you will forge daily, and then forge them diligently. Don’t let the sun go down without having added a link. Do that work first, whenever possible, or carve out some sacred time of the day when only that work has your attention. Let other things fall by the wayside, when need be . . . but don’t break those chains.
Today I start a new chain of work on my novel. What chain are you making?