“What’s the most common piece of advice you’re likely to receive for getting better at something? Try harder. Work harder. Put more effort in. Pay more attention to what you’re doing. Do more.
“Yet what do we experience when we are performing at our best? The exact opposite. Everything becomes effortless. We act without thinking or even giving ourselves time to think. We stop judging our actions as good or bad and observe them as they are. Colloquially, we call this being in the zone.”Shane Parrish , Farnham Street: The Inner Game
When I’ve done something in a painting that I’m particularly pleased with (that “good bit”) and then try to do it again deliberately, I’ve learnt to expect it not to work. Nor the next attempt, as often as not. I’m trying too hard and am too desperate to get it right, to prove to myself it wasn’t a fluke.
It’s only by worrying less about a specific outcome happening right now and trusting myself that I did it once and thus probably, maybe, most likely, perhaps, definitely, at some point will do it again. It may feel as if came out of nowhere, but it didn’t. It came from everything done before, it was just one of those days when the ducks all line up rather than flying erratically.