The author begins this chapter with her description of "being in the weeds" as compared with the first chapter - from a wide angle. To be in the weed is a close of view of the creativity process. She suggests to her reader, that to be in the weeds, one has to 1) change how you think about judgment (from critique to discernment); 2) become philosophical and skeptic; 3) attentiveness to the present moment .. all of these help you stay rooted in the process. Being in the weeds of choosing the question you are willing to risk working on. Whitaker discusses the work of two psychologists (Jones and Nisbett) on ‘actor-observer’ as people tend to see our “behavior as circumstantial and other people’s behavior as fixed.” In other words, we tend to see our behavior arrives from our situations, from the things that are happening to us. Other people we see as their character flaws. One analogy the author uses, is that we might see ourselves as a work in progress, and others as baked or complete. And sometimes we might see other people’s completed work and compare ourselves to their finished work. She reminds the reader there is a gap between the process and the outcome. When an artist is engaged in the early part of the creative process, one has two ways of evaluating one’s work - judgment versus decrement. When judging, one reduces their work to either good or bad. Discernment tends to review to see what works and what does not. Discernment is a process of learning what works and what does not, without an evaluation of the process. Within a learning mindset, one is not frustrated by what does not work, as one looks upon this experience as a teaching moment rather than a failure. One method Whitaker suggests is to use the “grace period" to defer judgment to the future, giving one time to see what happens, and to gain an understanding of their learning. She also suggests a mindfulness to this early process of being attentive to the vulnerability of being in the weeds, as this is where one is most likely to confuse successes and failures. This allows one the ability to change directions when needed. One take away she recommends is to validate one’s ability to notice when thoughts may overwhelm one in the early creative process by identifying when one recognizes thought distortions. She suggests using “good noticing,” as a verbal marker of a discerning mindset, and “only by changing our relationship to judgement and process can we open up that space of possibility."
I encourage you to buy a copy of Art Thinking for a better understanding of your own creative process. Whether you're a master artist or beginning artist, this is an excellent book.