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THE IRONY OF BEING TOO PRECIOUS WITH OUR WORK | Artist As Guide

Updated: Jan 23

Preciousness has an intrinsic battle.


When I state the term preciousness, when it comes to creativity, I think it’s safe to say it can be easily interpreted in two ways. Thus, the internal conflict.



For the first interpretation, let me ask: What would it mean to you, if I said, “don’t get too precious with your artform?”


Perhaps, you might think, don’t be overly careful with it, or fussy or too serious. Wearing kit gloves. To resist lingering on one small aspect of it with too much deliberation. To put it simply, not overthinking it. Maybe it’s not getting to the point where something becomes idolized or untouchable.


Yes. Absolutely. And when it comes to preciousness, here's the 'yes, and' with the second definition:


Precious is defined as an object, substance, or resource of great value; not to be wasted or treated carelessly. Its origins are in the Latin, ‘pretium,’ meaning price, value & worth.


So with preciousness, at its core, we’re dealing with the concept of “great value.” Something “to not waste.” Something to “not treat carelessly.” Something that has “worth.”


Ironically, and perhaps seemingly a flat-out contradiction, we want this definition to be our foundation as we are looking for ways to not get too precious with our creativity.


Together, let’s think. What might be some of the realistic outcomes of being too precious with our work? Whether it be a script, a novel, an article we’re writing or wanting to write. Getting ready for an audition, a design project, a creative business venture, a song concept. Whatever it might be.


Here are some very common outcomes that as a therapist and an artist, I’ve observed firsthand:


Perhaps you have a great idea, though it never really gets into the action phase. It just sits in your mind, maybe even for years: Ideas without action


Perhaps you chronically begin projects but they really don’t get very far into actual development: Chronic false starts


Maybe you linger or “tinker” over that first little push so much that it brings the rest of the work to a screeching halt: Tinkering


Perhaps you’ve worked hard on a project, but you’ve never quite brought it to a close. Flat out, it’s not finished: Lack of follow-through


Perhaps you actually do finish, but then don’t take the next steps in sharing with others: No Visibility


These outcomes all have one thing in common: At best, a state of stagnancy. At worst a state of full-on paralysis or even demise.


If you can relate to one or more of these categories, first take heart in knowing that it most definitely isn’t just you. We’re talking about symptoms of perfectionism, procrastination and well-worn paths that lead to dead ends for the Artist Role.



So with preciousness, the big reveal here: Our artforms, something precious, that intrinsically have “great value,” “to not be wasted,” “to not be treated carelessly,” “that have worth” are in fact getting completely devalued by being too precious.


Name the irony flat out: When we get too precious with our artform, we aren’t treating our artform as precious.


Even more to the point, being too precious with our work means our work doesn’t get done or experienced by others.


I absolutely want you to treat your creativity with preciousness, though true to it’s definition. Something of “great value.” Something “to not be wasted. Something to “not be treated carelessly.” Something that has “worth.”


Effective preciousness is getting the work to completion and allowing it to be experienced by others. That’s the type of treating your artform as precious, we want more of.

Effective preciousness is getting the work to completion and allowing it to be experienced by others. That’s the type of treating your artform as precious, we want more of.


Now go and create, you were created to.


If preciousness is a challenge for you, feel free to watch this video devoted to it, as it offers a practical exercise to put to good use!




"When we change our relationship to procrastination, we change everything."

-THE PROCRASTINATION SYSTEM



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