When artist Julio Panisello placed his copy of Charles Dickens’ Great Expectations in my hands, it was visceral. This is what happens when you set a goal and break it down into smaller pieces that you work on every day. As I turned the painted pages of the book, I derived more meaning from viewing the work as a whole than when I looked at the individual sketches he was posting each day on his website. There was a magnifying effect of viewing the sketches in a series, an emotional weight. The sum of this art object was much greater than its parts.
Julio began his project, The Havisham Hour, on January 7th, 2013, and after completing 513 sketches inspired by and created on the 513 pages of the book Great Expectations, he will end the project June 3rd, 2014. Each day after he creates the sketch, he posts the art and a recording of the text to his website at 8:40am, the time in the novel when Miss Havisham receives a letter on her wedding day announcing her groom is not showing up. That’s a powerful act of commitment.
If you are an idea person (aka creative, visionary, dreamer) you can’t count the number of times a day the light bulb goes on in your head. Ideas just flow from you. But the work required to make these ideas a reality can seem overwhelming. In addition to the creation of the thing itself, there are the matters of managing a website, PR, social media, email, fundraising, accounting, legal. The list is daunting, so daunting that your ideas don’t manifest into something outside of your mind. But Julio’s project suggests another way. He doesn’t work on the project all day. He does his sketch and posts his work and leaves his studio for his teaching job. Instead of diving into his project head-first to the exclusion of all else, his approach is to focus for a short period of time over a long span of days.
What would happen if you did that? Instead of trying to manifest your idea quickly by burying your life in your project to the exclusion of all else, what if you worked in short sprints? Once a day for 100 days or 365 days or, as in Julio’s case, 513? Holding Julio’s book in my hands with half the pages painted and half waiting to be painted was pure inspiration to try.
There may be days when you are inspired to do more, and days when 20 minutes will be all you have to give to your idea. But the key is showing up. As Julio tells it, the act of showing up each day encourages him to go deeper and to see things he might have otherwise missed. Could that apply to your project? Could the repetition of effort over time show you things you might have missed or allow you enjoyment you might not have felt had you rushed the process. What if your project will be better for the time you take to reflect between work periods? It’s worth an experiment.
Who’s up for 100 days of 20 minute sprints?
Photo credit: Sketch #231 from The Havisham Hour by Julio Panisello courtesy of the artist.
© 2013 Julio Panisello