The Value of Slow

You have an idea. It’s a great idea. You gather materials and carry it out. It doesn’t work. You give up. What made you think that would work, anyway? Your inner critic urges you to move on, to give up. You can’t do it anyway. If you had real talent, you would have gotten it right the first time.

slowmotionwaterburst_1920x1080If you are a freelance writer, your client doesn’t understand the purpose of a draft. “Why can’t you just give me what I want?” If you are a visual artist, you prepare backgrounds ahead of time, so you can race through the process and finish. Pity. Art, like life, isn’t about getting through it to get it over with.

All that speed doesn’t allow you to learn a damn thing. Cutting your losses doesn’t teach you anything except how to cut.

There is a huge benefit to doing things slowly. We live in a super-fast culture, but it’s the same culture that doesn’t like mistakes, that encourages blamestorming as a fair shot in competition.

What’s the benefit of slowing down?

You can anticipate. Slowing down let’s you think before you act. You can think through the next several steps to see if they are what you want. There is a real joy to creative obsession. Delighting in something and planning how it will work.

Slowing down saves time. Anticipating helps you plan more than one step ahead, create a Plan B, and discover options. Solving some problems you discover along the way, before they occur. All that saves time. Saving time reduces anxiety and possibly money. All because you slowed down.

Practice helps you get it right. Slowing down allows you to practice your steps before you have to do them. Practicing anything, from a piano concerto to a speech, makes you better at it. “Winging it” will just result in making your mistakes public. Slow down. Practice. Then when you do it, it will work, and you will know how come it worked. That allows you to do it again–the right way.

Slowing down slows time down. When time slows down, you see more and you understand more. The more you understand, the more you learn, the more you can use what you know.

Excellence takes time. No one was born an expert. You are not the exception. When you do things step by step you can see mistakes, often before you make them. You have more time to do each step, if you aren’t racing. John Wheeler, the physicist, said, “Time is what keeps everything from happening at once.” Luciano Pavarotti said, ““People think I’m disciplined. It is not discipline. It is devotion. There is a great difference.”  Take advantage of time.

-Quinn McDonald is a writer, journaler, and creativity coach. She is devoted to each in different ways.


12 thoughts on “The Value of Slow

    • It wasn’t Einstein, although I thought that too, until I sourced it. The quote is attributed correctly in the last paragraph of the blog post. And Wheeler got it from a bathroom wall in Austin, and the first reference was in a science fiction novel in 1922. Sourcing items can really take you down the rabbit hole!

  1. Hofstadter’s Law: “Any software development project takes longer and costs more than you anticipate, even when you take Hofstadter’s Law into account.”

  2. I teach Zentangle classes, and this is a big part of the Zentangle teaching method. Slow down, be deliberate with your marks, breathe, and enjoy the process. When we are rushing we forget about the process in our haste to get from Point A to Point B. We miss so much that way.

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