Picture a long-play vinyl record.   

Rotating at a fixed speed, a groove etched into the thin vinyl platter guides the stylus, converting physical vibration into sound.  

Once it has travelled the whole circumference of the groove, the path doesn’t repeat. It moves and flows seamlessly into the next groove. If the groove only ended where it began, the stylus would travel the same path in a loop.   The song would be endless – and repetitive.  

Instead, each revolution is an iteration of the last.  It progresses the song forward. Same song, new cycle.  Different moment. The song is over when we run out of grooves; when there are no more iterations that will fit.   

A vinyl record used to be capable of about 22 minutes of content. We could fit more, but the quality of sound and the probability of error would be greater.  

A Metaphor For Life

In many ways, the vinyl record is an excellent metaphor for life. It demonstrates how we should always be moving ahead.   

We are often inclined to analyze and ponder big things before we act.  We trust that when we need to, we can get out of a static groove – let’s call it a rut – with an abrupt skip into the next one. But this is not how to play beautiful music.  

The solution is simple.  Begin at the beginning.  Allow the natural motion to carry you from cycle to cycle, incrementally progressing forward into the unknown. With each revolution, we explore deeper into this creative moment. There is nothing to do. What happens next builds on what happened before. What happens after that isn’t so important yet. We’ll get there.  

The Purpose Of Our Art

Instead, our nature is to worry and think 20 grooves ahead. In this mode, we cannot flow forward. We pick up the stylus drop it down at various points to see if we can make sense of what might be coming. But the process is not about grabbing little fragments. It’s about arriving. The purpose of our art is to unfold it.  

Sometimes, we stay stuck in the first groove by choice.  Our belief is that if we stay there long enough, we will be more comfortable and certain. And we will – the downside is that we never finish the song – we never get to take part in the unfolding.  

Sound Familiar?

Does this sound familiar? Do you struggle to get to “done” or even “started” with your work? Are you afraid it’s not good enough, genius enough? Are you afraid of rejection or criticism? You may be stuck in a groove. The solution is simple but hard. Act. Do. Make. This is the only way to flow into the next increment.

The only thing that will make it easier is Doing.