Monday, September 8, 2008

A Tale Of Two Lists

Unless you are in a wild west show, it is not a good idea to ride two horses at once. Leave that to the exhibitionist in the spangled shirt. Except (You knew there was an except didn't you?) when your mind is pushing you to simultaneously solve two very similar problems. That's a good time to ride two horses, because they are going in the same direction.

What am I talking about now? My certain defeat with that striped Weekly To Do list that had those ambitious numbers on it, and that smaller nocturnal list that Nabokov saw fit to give me that you see in the first photo. Two very different kinds of lists. One was a measurable, accountable, "get this done", kind of list. The other was a," hey, look at this it is very important", searching kind of list. Which one was better for me?

They both were good. And even better, they both helped solve a problem of flow. One of them forced me into random, pick the first thing up and do it, then the next, until I achieved that rather arbitrary number of items to complete. (I did not get them all done.) And the other list forced me to examine what was behind what it is that I am doing. (That one, I completed.) I had been struggling on a matter of aesthetics. That second list gave me clues of where to look with what was troubling me.

You can see it can't you? One was my left brain, one the right, but they weren't fighting. They were working together to give me two ways to achieve the same end. And what's even better, I got it. Better flow. But more than that, flow in the right direction.

It is not a creative fluke that I put those collages on high priority last week. Those were on the numbered list. While working them with a beginner's mind, they gave me the idea that I could also storyboard some core ideas that I'd found in my journals and sketchbooks when I was searching for the answers to those Nabokov riddles. I think my horses were beautifully in tandem. Because this week I have an integrated list with smaller numbers. But I know what Nabokov was telling me. It makes perfect aha moment sense.

I suspended my judgment, listened, and let intuition guide me while solving the riddle. But a big part of that solution was working that numbered list randomly. I just went with it. Now look at that second photo with those straight lined up edges, and that content notebook all neatened up. Ahhh. That's because I worked both those lists. Not perfectly, but consistently, and without judgment too soon. And they together, answered my questions and gave me the structure to get more done even while struggling. So I have to thank my muses.

I am not buying a spangled shirt anytime soon, or putting in stables...but I am very grateful to the tandem lists. When an artist is pushing for breakthroughs, trying for new ways of expression, two horses, or two kinds of lists, can be better than one. And who wants to be stuck in the same old same old? Not me. Yes, it is Organizing Monday. My 3 Most Important Tasks? Well, my striped list has more reasonable numbers on it; I will storyboard some concepts; but most importantly I have new drawings and ideas just from working with those tandem lists, and those, those I will explore. And that is very exciting.


ParisBreakfasts said...

Love seeing your notes and notebooks! So inspiring..or colorful too! :)
I aspire to you colorful orderliness.
Especially as one riding 3-4 horses at once :(

Janice C. Cartier said...

Giddy up...hmm how do you say that in French? ;-)

A Brush with Color said...

Wow--well, I'm impressed. You're a circus performer, balancing up on the two horses in the ring simultaneously to the delight of all around you. Kudos!

Janice C. Cartier said...

Well, at the time you don't know if you're riding the horses, or they are riding you..if you know what I mean... sometimes you just go with it anyway. ;-)

Alex Fayle | Someday Syndrome said...

I always work with two lists - one is a complete list of everything that needs to get done (the big picture) and the other is the order in which I will do it (the details). Mixing the two together just confuses me, so I'm insanely happy that I've found a system that works for me.

And because I spend almost ALL my time in front of my computer, I use the web-based tools: and

Janice C. Cartier said...

Ooh Alex.. cool tools. Thanks!! I am analog myself MOST of the time. Every moment at computer is a moment I cannot hold a pencil or a brush... not a bad thing, just an everloving balancing thing... And insanely happy would be a goal worth shooting for...honestly, when I look up happy in the dictionary, your picture is right there! NO fair!!! Clever one. ;-)