Structure vs. Abundance

It's been interesting this past month thinking about pure generativity versus form, creating versus forming, yang vs. yin. I was originally just going to write about the male and female aspects of parenting, but went down the rabbit hole and started thinking 

​about expansion and contraction, equal and opposing forces, and the whole idea of boundaries. I'm on a few parenting boards where there's a whole lot of discussion about freedom versus structure, and what people need in order to grow properly.

I'm led to think about how some people, when writing poetry, prefer to write in strict forms like sonnets because the structure somehow frees up their creativity--having certain rules and confining the task makes it easier, or maybe just more fun.

I tend not to work that way. One of the things I love about NaNoWriMo (National Novel Writing Month, where you write 50,000 words in one month) is that it forces you to separate out the sheer creativity from the critical, editing side of writing. For me, if I have the luxury of looking over and analyzing every word that I write as you put it down on the page, I either give up or delete half of it. Regardless, I make very little progress and the result is stunted and weak. Granted, without any structure I sometimes write total, unadulterated crap (though I still blame "her heart was a bloated antelope" on Dragon Dictation). Still, I usually come up with something good, and follow-up editing is a lot easier when there's something to edit.

My daughter, when she was little, always knew exactly what she did and didn't want (and years later I have learned that the dog, fortunately for her, liked bananas). My son, on the other hand, tended to get overwhelmed by choice. I remember one day when he was two, standing in front of the open pantry doors, in increasing distress. "I don't want what I want!" he cried. He was a lot happier given a few limited choices. This strategy simply pissed my daughter off, pretty much from birth.

In my own life, I find I function better with a balance between structure and freedom. I've been blogging (or not) for years, without consistency. This past December, I planned out all the blog posts for the entire year. I know the topics, even though I don't know exactly what they'll end up being about, and I can change them. But it's been amazing how that structure has meant that I actually sit my ass down to make stuff.

Maybe it's not surprising I'm a combination of the two of them. When it comes to planning and organization I've realized I need a mixture of expansive freedom and anal-retentive hyper-organization, which is a difficult mix. The result is a combo of bullet journals--one to spew stuff out and just collect the abundance of my life, and another one to plan things by the week and document goals and exercise challenges.

It took a few years of experimenting to find this mix, but I'm loving it. I'll show you my journals in a post later this month and explain what bullet journaling is. In the meantime, there's some awesome videos on YouTube, and don't even get me started on JetPens.