Going Deep

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I’ve always thought of myself as someone who dives deep into her interests rather than skimming along the surface. And yet–it’s honesty time. Looking back at the past 53 years, I’m forced to admit that the only time this was actually true of me was when I was immersed in the study of Norse paganism and Odin’s path for more than a decade. (A close second is the near-decade I spent in devotion to the craft of hand spinning.) But otherwise, I have been very much a surface-skimmer: flitting from one project and one interest to the next, buying books only to have them sit unread on the shelf, accumulating craft supplies that go unused because I’m caught up in a new and different craft a few weeks later.

Having admitted this pattern to myself, it doesn’t sit well with me–not at all. Flitting from one thing to another is a perfect way to avoid becoming really good at anything–which rankles my perfectionistic Virgo soul, but which at the same time neatly serves my self-sabotaging and self-defeatist tendencies.

And so, when I heard and read about the concept of a Depth Year, it sparked immediate interest in me. To quote from the original article by David Cain (from 2017):

No new hobbies, equipment, games, or books are allowed during this year. Instead, you have to find the value in what you already own or what you’ve already started.

You improve skills rather than learning new ones. You consume media you’ve already stockpiled instead of acquiring more.

You read your unread books, or even reread your favorites. You pick up the guitar again and get better at it, instead of taking up the harmonica. You finish the Gordon Ramsey Masterclass you started in April, despite your fascination with the new Annie Leibovitz one, even though it’s on sale.

The guiding philosophy is “Go deeper, not wider.”

Taking this philosophy to heart, I’ve decided to commit to making 2019 a Depth Year for myself. I will not be taking up any new crafts, interests, hobbies, or spiritual paths during the year. Instead, I will be concentrating on going deeper into three interests I’ve adopted either during 2018 or beforehand: sewing and embroidery, traditional witchcraft, and junk journaling.

But for my own purposes, I’m making a couple of minor changes to the stated unofficial rules:

  1. I am not barring myself from purchasing new books–but they must fit into one of the aforementioned categories. (Fiction is an exception–but I don’t read much fiction, anyway.) I plan to dive deep into The Visions of Isobel Gowdie and other titles that have been languishing on my shelf.
  2. I am allowed to purchase new equipment and supplies (since I’m a crafter, and supplies do get used up and need to be replenished)–but ONLY if they pertain to the above areas of concentration.

Instead of feeling constrained by this, I’m actually super-excited about it. Strangely, although I’ve always been someone who performs best within a structure and limitations, I have rarely had those things in place. Unrestrained freedom results in aimlessness, burnout, and depression, for me. Well-considered restrictions result in an increased feeling of freedom (paradoxically) and also super-charge my creativity. I’ve known this for some time, of course, but–you know the drill, I haven’t wanted to admit it. It’s time to stop lying to myself, and get my oxygen tank ready, because I’m diving in.

I’ll chart my progress here, so you all can follow along. Anyone else interested in going deep rather than wide in 2019?

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14 Comments

  1. This is such a good idea! It’s nice to follow curiosity and see what new skills and knowledge it can bring you, but sometimes, we need to sit with a thing for a while to really get in deep, as you said, and know it profoundly. This is a very good idea indeed… ❤

  2. I’m really glad you shared this- I’m definitely going to give it a try! Now, to decide what I want to focus on…

      1. Thanks for the link, I’ve just joined! And I think I’m going to write up a blog post, but tarot and fiction writing are definitely on the list.

  3. *reads this post, examines own life-choices, considers participating* The voice within: “HAHAHAHAHAH ROFLOL!!! you funny… oh, you were being serious? hahaha! LMAO oh stop, I can’t breath.” I envy anyone who can do this. I will never be this person. Forever fated to be jack of all trades. I am intrigued, inspired maybe a little, but I know myself way too well. Good luck to you on this endeavor! Maybe some year I will be ready, but this is not that year (nb. “will never be…. “maybe some year” It’s ok, Walt Whitman got my back: “Do I contradict myself? Very well, then I contradict myself, I am large, I contain multitudes.”

  4. Actually, I believe I have started some of this “depth” practice this year. I organized all my lifelong photos into clearly labeled albums. I finished several paintings and am nearly finished posting my novel on Amazon’s publish-on-demand. I re-organized my bookshelves and placed the “need to read” books on my bedside stand. I finished reading two novels in the past two weeks, instead of reading partway and losing interest. I am also in the midst of re-organizing my art and craft and yarn and sewing supplies and getting rid of the stuff I’m not really going to use and labeling the things I am keeping so I can find them! I think this going deep is a very satisfying process and plan to continue into 2019. Thanks for sharing your journey!

    1. What you’re doing sounds lovely and inspiring! I need to do many of the same things re: unread books, my art & craft supplies, and photos. Good luck with continuing this in the new year!

  5. Thank you for posting this! I think it’s a great idea. I’m like you in that I do really well under constraints, because then my creativity has a clear channel and I can get to work. Otherwise, I keep floundering, debating what would be THE coolest and THE most creative thing I could do, and often end up doing nothing. Or else I end up dismissing all the skills I’ve already learned, because this other artform/skill/hobby would be even cooler and more impressive if I was able to master it to perfection. Alas, when the bar is perfection, I’m not likely to last long with my new hobby where I’m starting from square one. So… I’m very excited to go back to things where I have a pretty solid foundation, and just keep building. I think it will be satisfying and also won’t feel so wasteful, which is how it can feel when I have a bunch of barely-started projects and new supplies I’ve barely used.

    1. Yes, exactly! I’ve gotten very well acquainted with that feeling of overwhelm and wastefulness from having spent a bunch of money on supplies that then sit waiting to be used. It sounds like we have very similar patterns; good luck with your efforts to break the cycle in 2019! 😀

  6. This I am going to try. I may well fail miserably at it, like I have with most of my resolutions this year, but I am going to try dammit!
    For me, I think I’m going to focus on fibrecrafts, getting through my backlog of unread books, tarot, and my spirituality in general, including actual blogging. I haven’t been skipping around with it, but I’ve definitely been skimming – and I want that to change.
    I wish you luck. 🙂

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