If there was a 12 step program for people who are addicted to completely over-preparing for every single design, engagement, email, appointment and responsibility, I would be in it.

Seriously, its almost pathological for me, the need to have read everything, seen everything, left no stone unturned, rehearsed and be 100% clear on how I am going to conduct myself through pretty much most situations (Translation: yes, I am a nerd).  I say most, because obviously you can’t do this all the time. On those occasions I ‘wing it’ and do you know what happens?  It all turns out perfectly fine and nobody knows that I put zero preparation in.

So why do I bother?  I guess the answer lies in that we all have a creative process which (hopefully) gets us to the completion of a project.  For me I think that it is partly just the habit of holding onto old ways of being and doing, because for some time now I have been exploring what it means to live intuitively and trusting my natural talent.  And for the period that I have been experimenting with this, the results have been mostly really fantastic – I have trusted my natural ability to do what it is that I am setting out to do, kept an end result in mind, and then ‘winged it to completion’, minus the 20 hours of preparation.

So why, pray tell, did I just spend 4 days in a hotel in Perth writing ten thousand words (the equivalent of an Honours Thesis) in preparation for a workshop?  I have just realised that there are two reasons:

Firstly, the very valid need to get my voice out on paper on a particular theme so that I can bring together a tonne of research and get clear on where I actually stand with it.  I do this really well in writing.  So I guess I can comfort myself in the knowledge that this is a reasonably functional.

But I can’t hide from the fact that the other reason I do it is to calm myself down and ‘feel prepared’. A part of me is just really scared that if I’m I’m not exhaustive with my preparation that I’ll bugger it up. This is an old way of being for me.  It comes from the need to make sure I ‘get it right’ and that I ‘know everything’. As a bottom line, I do it to avoid being vulnerable and looking like a fool.  So it can be a wee bit dysfunctional.

The thing that has dawned on my on my return though, is that as much as I am sure that this preparation is not wasted, it was certainly not necessary.  What I can now see was that this was the round trip that I needed to make, partly because I am academically trained and old habits die hard, but also to find my way to my own unique voice, and satisfy myself that my voice is just as valid as all the others I have been examining.  And really, isn’t that what all Creatives are trying to do?

Carrying any creative project to a completion is a feat for anyone, and really if we actually get to the end, who really cares if we took the scenic or direct route to get there? If that is our ‘creative process’, if there are a certain places we need to go in that process to feel complete in our endeavour, then does it really matter what it took to get us there in the first place?

I quite enjoyed my four days of ‘brain-dumping’ in Perth, so I have decided that if that’s how my process goes, then that’s fine, even though it may have been the scenic route.

I’ve decided to simply respect that process rather than change it, because it’s just how I go about my art.

My name is Susan and I am an over-preparer…