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Excerpted from Walking in This World by Julia Cameron. Copyright 2002 by Julia Cameron. Excerpted by permission of Penguin Putnam, Inc.  All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher. HTML and web pages copyright by SpiritSite.com.
 

"Intention is what creates direction."

  Julia Cameron, Walking in This World, Part 3

To prove this to ourselves, we need to couple the largeness of our dream with the small, concrete, and do-able "next right thing." As we take the next small step, the bigger steps move a notch closer to us, downsizing as they move. If we keep on taking small enough next steps and therefore keep chipping away and miniaturizing what we like to call "huge" risks, by the time the risk actually gets to our door, it, too, is simply the next right thing, small and do-able and significant but nondramatic. Many of us falter, thinking that in order to begin a creative work we must know precisely how to finish it and, beyond that, to insure its reception in the world. We are, in effect, asking for a guarantee of our success before we have taken the single most important step necessary to insure it. That step is commitment.

When we realize that we want to make something-a book, a play, a sketch, a poem, a painting-we are yearning for the completion of that desire. We hunger to make art the same way we may hunger to make love. It begins as desire, and desire requires that we act upon it if we are to conceive things.

Despite our culture's well-earned reputation for encouraging instant gratification, we are not encouraged to act decisively upon our creative desires. We are trained to think about them, doubt them, second-guess them. We are trained, in short, to talk ourselves out of committing art or committing to art.

When movie director Martin Ritt told me "Cerebration is the enemy of art," he was urging that as artists we follow that Nike slogan, "Just do it." He wasn't saying that brains were counter to the creative process, but he was urging us to use our brains to actually make art, not think about making art. Thinking is not the enemy, but overthinking is.

If you conceptualize launching a project, you begin to understand the issue of overthinking. Think of your project as "the arrow of desire." Imagine yourself eyeing the bull's-eye, pulling back the bow-and then thinking about it. Worrying about it. Considering whether you are aiming exactly right or whether you should be a smidgen higher or lower. Your arm begins to get tired. Then your aim begins to get shaky. If you manage to finally shoot the arrow, it does not sail with confidence and strength. You have that in your vacillation about exactly how you should shoot. In short, you have mistaken beginning something with ending something. You have wanted a finality that is earned over time and not won ahead of time as a guarantee. You have denied the process of making art because you are so focused on the product: Will this be a bull's-eye? 

We forget that intention is what creates direction. If we aim with the eye of our heart-"That I desire to do"-then we aim truly and well. "Desire," that much-maligned word, is actually the best guide for our creative compass. Horseback riders who jump the Grand Prix fences of terrifying heights talk of "throwing their heart" over the fence so their horse jumps after it. We must do the same.

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