I keep imagining a tradition I’d like to invent. After you’re established in your career, and you have some neat stuff in your house, you take a whole year in which you don’t start anything new or acquire any new possessions you don’t need. Instead, you have to find the value in what you already own or what you’ve already started. The guiding philosophy is “Go deeper, not wider.” When we give ourselves fewer places to dig, we go deeper, and what we uncover is more rare and valuable than the usual stuff near the surface. ~ David Cain
I came across Cain’s philosophy early last year, and it immediately struck a chord. As a result, I started applying it in some areas of my life. It tied well with my intentions for 2021, and there’s been a remarkable shift already. So, I continue in the same vein in 2022 as well.
Some refer to this practice as Depth Year, others as a year of not buying anything new, etc. That is, I’ve come across many variations. However, going deeper for me means not starting any new creative projects, this year. And also continue with being intentional about what I choose to do, consume, nurture and find value in.
Time permitting, I might write in detail about each of the areas below in future posts or update you on my progress with going deeper in six months time. We’ll see. But for now, the following is a glimpse into how I’ve categorized the areas I’ll be deepening this year:
Choose what NOT to do
In my personal life and out of necessity, there are things I’ve let go of already. And I feel good about those decisions. In my creative life, there are many things I’m not doing this year. How I go about this largely depends on practicality, desirability, reciprocity and carving out time to do something I enjoy, every day.
Return to (almost) abandoned projects
Besides eventually publishing my latest poetry collection, my biggest aim is to complete some of the various creative projects I’ve started, in the past few years. First, I hope to pitch some of my current writings, instead of starting another long work. Second, I want to deepen my knowledge in other artistic endeavours I already practice, instead of learning a completely new skill. Because truth be told, if I had taken time to develop these artistic skills, I’d have mastered at least one by now.
Find value in what I already have
Despite the fact that I’m more of a page poetry writer and reader as opposed to performance poetry, coming from a culture of oral poetry I know that poetry can be shared and enjoyed in many ways. Hence, I’m revitalizing some of my previously published poems by exploring other media or ways to present them. I’m having fun with some individual pieces as they decide which direction to go, and as seen with WoMan. This might be a long process, fortunately I’m not in a rush.
Nurture authentic relationships
As a writer and creative, I believe in surrounding myself with a community of creatives for inspiration and support. I’ve spoken about this in the past. This year, and as I continue to nurture genuine relationships, I’m particularly looking for a community of writers to help me grow professionally. By this I mean, writers who are writing to publish. The aim would be to motivate and challenge each other out of our comfort zones. Most of you know, I write poetry and creative nonfiction, at this point. It’s along the same lines, I’m looking to expand these writing relationships.
In a nutshell, this is what my going deeper, not wider means. So, depth is my word for 2022. Of course, with all these projects I aim to finish, this also means I’ll be retreating to myself more. Nonetheless, I’ll continue with Project Finding Beauty & Writing & Living categories, and as usual all posts will publish on Sundays.
As always, I’d also love to hear ways you are approaching your creative life, this year. Please do share!
p.s. If interested, you can read about Cain’s philosophy directly from him.
p.p.s. If you’ve missed Dear 2021, You Should Know, a poem in a way that gives some context into why I choose to go deeper, you can find it at Spillwords.