I remember hiking my first 100 miles on the Appalachian Trail. It felt like a huge accomplishment, so I marked the moment by making a stick sign and taking a selfie. To celebrate, I scored fist bumps with every hiker I saw that day.
Then I made the mistake of looking at my itinerary, the big picture. A one hundred mile section seemed so paltry when looking at the whole of almost 2,200 miles.
So I tossed the itinerary in a ziploc bag with my trash and kept putting one foot in front of the other, celebrating every hundred miles, sometimes with wine or cartwheels or even tears for the big deal milestones—500, 1,000, halfway.
I kept a daily journal on my hike. Every night I would log the miles, jot down some notes about the day, occasionally sketch.
Eventually I wasn’t driving myself forward. Rather, most days, I felt compelled forward to complete the big picture. Hiking every day started feeling easier (even though going north on the Appalachian Trail, never actually gets easier).
The momentum builds as the miles fall away and as the pages accumulate in my log book.
I’m finding it’s the same for creative work.
As the work starts to accumulate, so does the compulsion to keep going, to add more, explore more, learn more, create more. It’s not putting Xs in the boxes every day that satisfies and pulls me forward.
The act of creating satisfies. And leads to the creation of more work.
The momentum builds as a body of work starts to grow.
This is where the compulsion to create is born. This is how creating stops being optional and starts being mandatory.