Friday, May 13, 2011

TAME Your Creativity - Get Things Done

The way to feel good about yourself, your life and the work you do is to keep yourself in a positive frame of mind.

Read uplifting books and articles - stay away from the bad news in the media - and surround yourself with affirmative influences.

Too many people want to tell you the sky is falling in. These Henny Penny types waste your time and creative energy warning you of all the things that can and will go wrong. But just like the Henny Penny character, these people bring the worst scenarios upon themselves.

Focusing your mind on the positive not only creates better results, it's easier and less stressful to produce successful outcomes.

Your creative spirit is precious - and always right and good. Use it liberally and your life will begin to blossom into a magical adventure.

Probably the single most important issue writers faces is the ability, even the inclination sometimes, to finish what they start.

We all know how this works.

We have a great novel inside of us, which we'll get to one day.

We've written some part of a great work, which we don't seem to have time to return to.

We have a host of ideas that, though we are well intentioned, never seem to make it out of our heads or notebooks on to the computer screen.

Worse, we have whole manuscripts we can't show anyone because they're not finished, polished or edited well enough to present.

There are five main issues at work here, which need to be TAMED.

1. Time

2. Action

3. Motivation

4. Energy

5. Discipline

Think of your creativity as a wild animal. It rages inside your head, crashing against the bars of your subconscious. It's always hungry. Always ready to break out and run free, eager for freedom, sustenance and the ability to forage on its own terms.

Trouble is, wild creativity is useless at remaining focused. It has no sense of direction and, just like an unwillingly captive animal, will run until exhausted unless restrained on a leash.

Creativity needs to be tamed, trained and directed if it is to be a faithful friend or of any use to you.

1. Time

There's never enough time, is there?

Strange that as our lives become theoretically easier, there's more things to fit into each day. Life seems to veer towards complexity, even chaos, as we try to fulfill all of our obligations.

But really, this is an illusion we thrust upon ourselves to, perhaps, make us feel more important. Fact is, nothing we do is really very important in the great scheme of things. It's worth meditating on this fact at least once a day. I mean it.

Take five minutes out of every day to remind yourself that absolutely nothing is important. Not only is this very liberating - it can magically free up hours of creative time.

Having enough time to write is about assigning priorities.

And if there's something - anything - you can put off until tomorrow, do exactly that. Write it down as something to do tomorrow and then forget about it. Eliminate it from your mind.

Then use the extra time you create today to write more.

Easy, right?

2. Action

Nothing can happen unless you take action. Nothing will be achieved unless you begin. As a writer this means that you have to write.

Don't worry about what you're writing. Remember this: Every writer's first draft is bad. If it's not, then you're some kind of freak that's never existed before. If the first thing you write is genius, you belong in a laboratory where scientists can experiment on you.

But if you're a normal, even exceptional writer, your first draft will embarrass you. That's almost the point - to make you want to improve on it.

But remember too, that if you never get the first draft down, you don't have anything to improve upon.

So just do it. Get it all down on the page, quickly and without too much thought, in what M Night Shayalaman calls 'the vomit pass.'

And keep writing - no matter how unpleasant or restless you feel - until you've reached the end. The idea that writing is always fun is a myth. And if you rely on feeling good to write then you'll rarely finish anything. Because your mind and body prefer effort to constant joy.

We, as humans, are designed to work - and take action. It's our basic survival instinct. Use it to your advantage.

3. Motivation

Change your expectations of yourself. Move the goalposts.

Most writers - most people - will say they work better under pressure. There's not much more motivating than having a deadline you can't alter.

Writers have a harder time because there's no real reason to write. I mean, if nothing is particularly important, then such a frivolous activity as writing has to be even lower on the nothing scale...

The way to get around this paradox is to create artificial deadlines. Give yourself time limits. Finishing dates. And stick to them.

And if that's not working, invent reasons why these dates are important. As Anthony Robbins once said, give your motivation 'legs'.

Why does something have to be written? List the reasons.

Start with the end result - something huge and profound. Make a long term plan for your work. See it all in your mind - and work backwards to the smallest steps you must take to create your dream outcome.

Use the big dream to prod you on a daily basis.

That'll work.

4. Energy

As a writing and motivation coach I've heard all the reasons why writers can't write - all the excuses under the sun. Lack of energy, some physical or psychological block, addiction to chemicals or erratic behaviors, even hostile partners. I've heard and sometimes witnessed them all.

But it's YOU that places these blocks in your path. Remember that every time you find an excuse not to do something, someone else, in exactly the same circumstance as you, has made a different choice.

They are writing when you are not.

You took the easy option when they did not.

Again, it's about priorities. And if writing isn't at the top of your list of priorities, then stop calling yourself a writer and take up something less stressful - like needlepoint, wine-making or cookery.

Face it, you don't even need to get out of bed to write. How hard can it be? That is, if you really want to do it.

Everyone gets tired. Everyone works sometimes until they drop. It's about finding the motivation to do something of lasting importance, instead of frittering away your energy on inconsequentialities.

5. Discipline

Understanding yourself - your instincts, your behavior and your motivations - is a life long job. You're not a bad person because you have evil urges or self defeating habits. Conversely, you're not always a good person just because you project an image of piety.

Somerset Maugham pointed out that we hold others to a standard way, way higher than we hold ourselves. Don't be too hard on yourself - or others for that matter. We all have faults and parts of our psyche we'd rather were not publicly known.

It's called being human.

And you're allowed to be one. Really.

If you'd rather get drunk than write, go for it. There's nothing wrong with that. Just don't complain the next day because you can't write with a hangover!

Think about what you do and who you are. Don't suppress your energies, even your darkest desires. No, merely take charge and direct them into your best, most positive and creative endeavors.

Take responsibility for your time, motivation and your energy. Take action to tame your creativity and make it work for you.

Because when your creativity is T.A.M.E.D. to your satisfaction, the creative animal roar inside of you can - and will - make the world sit up and listen.

Keep writing!

Your Success is My Concern
Rob Parnell's Easy Way to Write


"Change should be a friend. It should happen by plan, not by accident." Phil Crosby
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