be a moving target

Marian ParsonsArtistic Endeavors47 Comments

Inspiration can be a beautiful thing.  It’s a spark that catches and can carry you through enormous projects.  It can drive you, fill you, and lead you into the places of dreams.  But, it can also be fickle, inconstant, and shy.  It can disappoint, be elusive, and untimely.

We can sit around a long time waiting for the inspiration to do something.

I’ll work on my house when I’m inspired.  I’ll paint when I feel that pull.  I’ll start writing when inspiration finally makes an appearance.

Working in that manner typically results in projects never being done, pastimes never being pursued, and goals never being met.  We are at inspiration’s mercy and are no longer the captain of our own ship.

And that’s just no way to be.

I have learned, out of accident more than intention, that whether you do something or don’t do something needs to be driven by a more consistent force.  Action needs to be dictated by the calendar, the clock, established habit, and/or a commitment.

As Pablo Picasso said, “Inspiration exists, but it has to find you working.”

We feel like we need inspiration to accompany us in order to start and create something of worth.  But it’s true, inspiration is much more likely to show up if you’re already putting pen to paper or putting brush to canvas or if you’re already scooting the furniture.

Inspiration prefers a moving target.  Not a stationary one.

If you’re working on a room in your home that’s been bothering you or that’s had you stuck, try moving around the furniture, give it a deep cleaning, swap pieces from other rooms (especially pillows and accessories).  If you’ve been wanting to paint, but you’re terrified of a blank, white canvas, try painting on heavy craft paper or on some other “throwaway” surface or just play with colors on a palette.  If you want to write, just start writing without clear direction and see where the words take you.  In other words, be a moving target for inspiration.

I was at a music conference a few years ago and had the chance to hear Paul Baloche teach a songwriting workshop.  I wasn’t interested in songwriting, but I was interested in hearing about his creative process.  Someone in the audience asked about writer’s block and how to deal with negative self-talk during songwriting sessions.

He answered that he doesn’t have “songwriting sessions” or times when he has to sit down with the purpose of writing a song that will be on an album.  Instead, he schedules regular time to play his guitar and sing.  He does it alone and always records his sessions, so he doesn’t have to take time to analyze the melodies and words to ascertain their worthiness.  He just plays and sings.  When the negative self-talk creeps in, pointing out that he hasn’t written a polished, complete song, he shoos it away.  “I’m just singing and playing here.  Leave me alone.”  When singing and playing is the goal, writing a song that can go on an album or perhaps the early stages of several songs, becomes the icing on the cake.  And, if it doesn’t happen in that session, that’s okay.  He achieved his goal of showing up, playing, and singing.

Clearly, that works for him since he can crank out song after amazing song.

So, don’t let the lack of inspiration be a stumbling block to you.  Don’t let it be an excuse for not doing something you want to do.


Create by the calendar & clock – Schedule time to create…to work on that room, to paint, to write, to sew, to design.  Make it a part of each day or each week.  And don’t just have it be an arbitrary time without a defined end.  It should have a set start time and an end time.  You’re done when the clock hits that end time, not before and not after.  And, if you don’t feel finished, allow that wave of inspiration to carry you into your next scheduled time.

Create out of a commitment –  Protect that scheduled time like it’s an important commitment.  Because it is an important commitment!  It’s staving off regret.  It’s soul time.  It’s heart time.  It’s important and valuable.  It’s only selfish if it’s done without time limits, but we already talked about that.  Mom’s, women, you can take an hour of the day or 15 minutes or twice a week to pursue something that feeds your creative soul.

Create without expectation – Come to this time with patience and an open mind.  Don’t saddle yourself with self-imposed creative deadlines.  The goal should be the time and the action, not the outcome.  The goal is painting and if you paint something you love and people want to buy, great.  If not, you spent an hour painting.  An hour doing something you love.  If you just end up with a bunch of colors smeared on a piece of paper…well, that can be the jumping-off point for something better.  Inspiration may find you through those smears of paint.  But you have kept your commitment and met your goal.

I’ve realized, in all of my reading, studying, journaling, talking with other creatives, and through my own creative journey, that this is something I’m passionate about.  Creativity is not something reserved for “creatives”, but it’s for everyone.  It’s in everyone.  And maybe, as a creative, that’s easy for me to say, but I know it’s a truth because we are created in the image of our Creator.  That very statement makes the point.

But beyond that, I’ve experienced the truth of it in my own actions.  I’ve seen the fruits of those scheduled creative times and I’ve felt the benefits of them.  Inspiration has found me working.

So, don’t waste years waiting for inspiration to find you.

Be a moving target.

be a moving target

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47 Comments on “be a moving target”

  1. Wow! Thank you for this. I’m going to post “Be a Moving Target” and the Picasso quote both where I’ll see them often.

    1. Edwina, it seems you’re obsessed with “Be a moving Target” concept so am I. I promise to share this content on social media. Thanks, Marian, I’m huge on art.

  2. The little painting at the end of this post is absolutely beautiful… and the Kraft paper of your book is perfection. All of the photos of your pastels are just lovely!

    I love what you said about scheduling time to be creative… I don’t have a problem feeling inspired to practice my mainly hobbies… I just feel like I should spend my time doing more obviously productive things – like laundry. And so I’m forever wishing I spent more time doing the creative things that feed my soul.

    Time to set the calendar.

    Beautiful and inspiring post Marian!!

    1. Thank you, Meredith, and I totally agree! I’m writing this post for myself, too, because I’ll often push aside creative time to do “real work” or “more productive work”, but I am minimizing the value of that creative time, that time for my heart, and I really start to feel it. Creative work shouldn’t cause us to neglect the laundry or dinner or other things that need to be done, but those things shouldn’t crowd out creative time entirely either.

  3. Wow! I needed that! Sometimes I need a kick in the pants! 😁👍🏻 Thank you kindly. I’m headed for my tiny studio.

  4. Thank you for this. I never thought of this this way. Every word is so true. You are truly and inspiration. I absolutely love the last painting. I hope you consider selling it.

  5. Thank you soooo much for this. I know momentum carries me forward, and getting started is the hardest part, but it’s nice to know others struggle with it, too. My most productive year was one project after another, and it felt so good to accomplish so much, however, when health issues and family crisis put the brakes on, I have had such a hard time getting back into the routine of being productive. This post was just the nudge I’ve needed. Hopefully I can back to that productive momentum again, and feel good about myself again. I need to remember that progress is progress, no matter how small…

  6. People often treat creative endeavors like it’s some illusive, magical, mystical experience that descends whimsically upon one. But the best way to look at it is as a craft that requires study and commitment. My husband always wanted to be a writer. Many years ago, he got a job, first as a journalist, then an editor of a newspaper. He said that was the best preparation because he had to write to deadlines and it made him disciplined about his writing hours. Whether he felt like it or not, he wrote. All of it has been creative and contributed to his writing crafting. He still is an editor, but he has also written three novels.

    I started a late career as a graphic artist. I started with small projects with deadlines. I’ve learned a lot and everything I’ve done has improved my skill and made be more creative. Deadlines and pay are a motivation, but I always push myself to do my best. Sometimes that means I give people more than they asked for and spend more time on a project than I am getting paid for, but it doesn’t matter. I’m working to please my best self.

    1. So well put! I think having the daily commitment of writing a blog has given me that “writing by a deadline” experience and has made me a better, more disciplined creative. Excellent comment!

  7. It always surprises me (although it shouldn’t) when the universe sends you exactly what you need when you need it. Thank you, Marian, for these perfect words of inspiration!

    1. I’m using oil paint primarily. One little sketch was done in pastels, more to play with colors. I am going to be putting together an oil class for absolute beginners, so you might be interested in that!

  8. Wonderful words of inspiration. How often have we all put things off until we “are in the mood”. By the way, I love the watercolor, are you selling that one?

    1. Thank you! That little painting was actually done in oil. It’s just a sketch, so I won’t be selling it, but I will probably paint a larger work based on it.

  9. I needed this…. so badly you have no idea. I love to bake, cook, redo furniture, play in my garden and just fun crafty things like wreath making. But I’m stuck in this cycle of feeling like I should be doing the more adult everyday chores rather than creating what makes my heart happy which makes me feel guilty for doing the things that make my heart sing. One of my favorite things is using my planner as a journal and now I’m inspired to plan out my creative time. Piece by piece. Following your story on your blog and on Instagram has taught me so much about more than reupholstering a chair or milk paint, but about being creative and being myself. About being brave to try something new and scary. About being patient and working hard and dreaming big. Thank you again for sharing with us. You inspire me to do more and dream big.

    1. I’m so glad! What a beautiful comment. I had to work through (and am still working through) some of those same feelings… feeling guilty when cleaning needs to be done, or laundry, or dinner prep, and I’m in my studio painting. But Jeff and I have learned that we both need heart time. He needs hiking, fishing, and being outdoors. I need creative time. Giving each other that unhurried time makes us enjoy (or at least resent less) the things that have to be done as a functioning, responsible adult. Both are equally important! I’m glad you’ll schedule that creative time. 🙂 Protect it!

  10. Help…. I missed your live stream Instagram this morning! Is there a way I can “see it”, or at least read what you were talking about.
    I enjoyed the ones I have seen, thanks for doing them!


    1. Yes! It’s saved to my instagram stories for 24 hours, so you can see it there until tomorrow mid-day.

  11. What a great piece!!!. It’s beautiful and you did such a good paint job. It’s such a beautiful piece of furniture and I love the handles. I love to watch you paint and show us how to change a piece of furniture into a piece of ART!!!! Thanks for all you teach us.
    your blog friend,

  12. Oh, goodness….it’s like you were eavesdropping on my lunch with a creative friend yesterday. We were discussing this very subject…but you, as usual, nailed it more eloquently. Thank you for saying exactly what I needed to hear at exactly the right time. Wonder if I actually was a moving target for this?

    Thanks and have a happy holiday weekend!

    Hugs from Texas,

  13. Marian, I have followed you for many years and I have read every single post you have blessed us with. But today this post absolutely bowled me over. Thank you so much for putting this out there for all of us, and especially me, to read. I needed this in the worst way and did not even realize it. Wow! Rock on, girl!!!

  14. Thank you for the road map…Create by the calendar & clock; Create out of a commitment and Create without expectation, I guess in my life, this is what I needed. Some times I feel overwhelmed with chores; that they do not allow the creative me to come out and play. Thank you.

  15. I’m printing this one and posting it to help me to remember. I find it hard to carve out my creative time these days since I’m a member of the sandwich generation (wife, mother, and daughter caring for aging parents). I like the concept of scheduling the time and not necessarily expecting great things to happen or a completed task. That might be what I need to do right now for a while. Thank you for this post, I think you helped a lot of us to think differently about our own chances at creativity today.

  16. I read a book some time ago which is regarding the same subject matter, The Creative Habit, by Twyla Tharp. Thank you so much for the reminder!

  17. Marion, you seem have struck a chord with alot of people and I’m no exception! I always find I’m way more productive both with my creatively side and my everday life side if I have a plan and schedule. Without those balances in place I can literally go through an entire day or week and feel like I’ve accomplished nothing. Thanks!

  18. I love this too! I like a previous reader have followed you and read your posts for years. This was definitely one that hit home for me. I agree that everyone is creative in some capacity. Discipline seems to be what sets some apart. I see this play out in my children, some are obviously “artists” they love to paint, draw, craft, play music. Some are more science and math minded, and their creativity takes on a different form. It is all beautiful and all from our Creator! Again I loved this post! Thank you!

  19. That’s a beautiful sentiment, Marion… If our creative work comes from the heart, that makes it an expression of ourselves. How can it not be a thing of beauty?

    One of the inspiring things about Marian is that she doesn’t waste time waiting for an “expert” to come along and give her permission to engage in a creative pursuit. She makes up her own mind that she wants to do something and dives in. I love that.

  20. Marion you always have a knack for saying all the right words at the right time❤️ I am a quilter and a teacher. I always tell my students in workshops that we don’t allow ourselves enough time to just “play”. I encourage them to have “fun” in my class and not worry about the overall “project”.

    Reading your post made me realize I’m not listening to my own words. It hit me like a ton of bricks😳. Thank you from the bottom of my heart. Inspiration will find me working.

  21. Thank you so much for this post, Marion. I will be reading and re-reading these words often as I, too, seek to become a “moving target” and stop waiting for that long-delayed, elusive inspiration.

  22. Every time I read one of your super inspiring posts, I become more and more convinced that mom and I brought the wrong kid home from the hospital.

  23. Marian, thank you for this post. I know that I am at my best when I am organized – not just my physical space, but my time. I am reminded by your post and the many comments here that I am allowing my “should do its” to overtake my creative time. Gotta make a plan! (and I so love making a plan, lol)

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