Quick Question Over Coffee

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I’m current focusing most of my creative writing efforts on a single novel, but my creative energy keeps pushing me to jump around to different ideas.  I’ve always read that I should simply jot down a few notes when new ideas pop up but remain focused on one project until completion.

I recently took a week break from my novel so I could dive deep in a short story I wrote for a contest.  Maintaining focus was easier, probably due to the short timeframe, but it may not be indicative of how I function best on more expansive works.

How do you work best?  Fitting your own style into a three answer poll isn’t always inclusive enough, so if you would like to expand your answer, I’d love to hear your thoughts in the comments.

Creativity, It’s Own Reward

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The time has come to rethink rewards.  As humans we reward ourselves for good behavior, such as a successful achievement.   We also reward ourselves for avoiding bad behavior, like not biting our nails.

Many of us use rewards to play internal games to get through the stuff we really don’t want to do. “If I do the dishes right after dinner, then I can watch an extra hour of Netflix without feeling guilty!”  Or, “If I finish the yard work, I can spend the afternoon on the deck with a couple beers!”

This system often focuses on rewarding the wrong part behavior or not using rewards we truly covet.

We love our creative pursuits, so why do we feel a need to reward ourselves for accomplishing small parts of our projects or completing them?  Why isn’t the end result enough of a reward in itself?

Why isn’t the end result enough

of a reward in itself?

The answer here is “work”.  We are not rewarding the success of reaching a milestone.  We are rewarding the end of hard work.  If it was hard work to polish off a dozen red velvet cupcakes, you can bet we’d be finding a way to reward ourselves for such a feat.

We need to change our mindsets.  We can continue to reward the hard work, but why not choose a different reward.  Instead of picking something fleeting like a sweet treat or streaming videos, give yourself uninterrupted and guiltless time for something you love.  Hell, let’s reward any achievement with more time for creativity.  “Wow, I just finished binge-watching this Netflix series, I’m going to reward myself with an hour of writing!”

Let’s admit to ourselves that creativity should be our reward in the mess of both responsibilities and leisure activities in our lives.  Our passions should be the rewards for which we strive.  Sure the work is hard, but we aren’t seeking the “phew that’s over feeling.”  We crave the “Wow, I’m proud of what I created” euphoria.

“Wow, I’m proud of what I created”

We should reward hard word while at the same time the reward should be something we love.  Choosing rewards is as important as choosing what efforts to reward.

So, for the hard work of finishing this post I’m rewarding myself with a half dozen donuts, and the hard work of devouring these sweet treats will be rewarded with more time for writing.

Are you rewarding the achievements or the efforts?  Do you ever use more creative time as a reward?  What do you think of rewarding yourself with more time for creativity?

Don’t Think, Just Write!

So, I’m beginning to be quite a fanboy of The Art of Blogging. This article has seven great suggestions for getting down to writing, but one stuck out as particularly helpful.

The quote by Raymond Chandler in the seventh suggestion hits home regarding the importance of making the time set aside to write FOR WRITING!

I have a few hours today to give this a go. First I’ll turn off my Wifi. Since I use Scrivener, I can shut out all the other apps on my computer. I’ll get my coffee ready, leave my phone and iPad in another room and get down to work.

If I’m not writing, outlining, drafting character descriptions or anything specific to moving the project forward, then I’ll probably just stare at the wall (I’m not sure my balance is good enough to stand on my head).

Hopefully some of these suggestions can make your writing time more productive, too.

Weekly Status: June 22, 2018

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To keep myself accountable, I have chosen to post about my creative progress each week.  Although you may not be invested in the details of my progress (or lack thereof), I hope you can take from my updates some ideas on developing your own personal accountability method.

Writing

Blogging

I’m getting into a good rhythm with my blog posts.  Now into my 3rd week I made five more posts and have decided this is the right number that gives me enough time to complete my other responsibilities with enough time left over to work on my other interests.  Going forward I have adjusted my target to 5 posts each week.

Next week’s target: Post 5 of 7 days

Fiction

I worked a little more on my novel but not as much as I wanted.  I’m finding it difficult to sit down and do the work as I become distracted with other projects.  I read an interesting bit of advice about writing time this week.  (I cannot recall where or who originally said it, so if you know could you post a comment so I can give the author credit!  Edit:  I found the article I ready on The Art of Blogging.  The quote is by Raymond Chandler and included in the article Don’t Think, Just Write! by Cristian Mihai)  The gist is that during your set writing time you need to write.  If you aren’t writing you shouldn’t be doing anything else.  Period.  Your alternative to writing during this time is thinking about your writing or staring at the wall.  I’m going to give it a try this weekend.

Next week’s target:  3 hours brainstorming and outlining

Photography

I didn’t work on photography at all this week.  For now, I’m leaving this creative category as a “nice to have” and will play around with tutorials and practicing on my own photos when the impulse strikes me.

Next week’s target:  Playing around for for as much time as I want

Coding

I began reworking one of the complex views in my project.  I originally had it as a dynamic tableview but have since determined that it should really be a static tableview and insert dynamic tableviews within certain sections of the static table view as needed.  I’m sure if you are not into coding all you probably read was “blah, blah, blah-blah, and blah!”

Next week’s target:  Complete the change to a static tableview

Videography

I completed the script for my Motion project.  The best part about writing the script rather than jumping in head first to build the project was coming up with alternative ideas on how to present the full concept.  Near the end, I originally thought the animal shelter would rise from the ground, but as I finished up the script I came up with what I think will be a better way to show the shelter moving from idea to reality.  Now comes the fun part—getting my hands dirty in Motion!

Next week’s target:  Map out the entire project in Motion.

What projects are you passionate about this week?  Are you finding time and success in your creative adventures?

Resolution Time, Again

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2018 is going to be a new year for me. I’ve said it before (probably even on this blog). You may have said it before, and we all could probably name a few people who we’ve heard say it before. For me, this year is going to be different for a couple of reasons. I have a new attitude and a new approach to making positive changes in my life.

The skeptic in me keeps asking, “how could your attitude transform as simply as the year changes on the calendar?” As I ponder his query (and yes, I’m aware arguing with myself is not always the best use of my time), I realize my attitudue has been evolving over several months now. Due to a very emotionally exhausting experience early this fall, my attitude has fluctuated between investing more time in my creative pursuits or just pluggin through life at my normal job. What the change in year gives us is a powerful line in the sand past which we can fully enact a change. Its a fresh start, a new beginning, or it can even be a do over.

I’m a goal setter and a resolution maker. This year it occurred to me that apparently I am better at establishing personal levels of achievement more than actually fulfilling these goals. I don’t beat myself up when I miss them because I can seemingly rationalize away the defeat by focusing on the other things I have achieved or new goals I have already set in my mind.

I am bound and determined to make a change in this personal process this year so I am taking a new approach. Rather than set very specific goals as I have done in prior years I am taking the lead from Scott Adams’ book “How to Fail at Almost Everything and Still Win Big: Kind of the Story of My Life”. Adams says in his book, “goals are for lossers”, so this year I will establish systems. The difference between goals and systems, Adams explains, is that goals have a very specific outcome or ending while systems are things or processes you carry out every day that could, and in many cases should, go on indefinitely.

For 2018, I choose to focus on three systems – Learning, Organization, Completion. Rather than set a list of highly specific goals at the beginning of a long year bound and determined to morph from month to month, I changing my approach to set up three systems that will allow me to succeed this year even as my ideas, interest and available “me” time adjusts under the influence of external stimuli.

As of today, some of the things I would like to learn this year are Apple’s Motion software, Affinity Photo (an affordable Photoshop alternative), and advanced Swift programming. I’m afraid if I set out specific goals for all three items I would not sufficiently succeed in some of these goals. I might also purposely avoid an opportunity to switch gears should a new interest arise. By focusing on “Learning” I will be successful when I make progress on each and every new task I undertake related to learning.

I chose organization and completion as two additional systems. To make lifestyle improvements I see these system going together like peanut butter and jelly. I tend to jump around from task to task in both my profesional and personal responsibilities., so improving my organzational abilities will lead to seeing more projects all the way through to completion.

Even though this first post of the year is over a week past that all important calendar change, I have already made strides toward these goals. So far this year, I have been excited everyday to put my new systems to use. The key to my success is execution, continued execution.

Have you set any resolutions this year? I’d love to hear about your approach to success in 2018 in the comments section.