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Archive for the ‘creativity’ Category

As the song goes – some days are diamonds, some days are stones. (Well I hope that’s how it goes. I’ve only just convinced my daughter that the words to another song are ‘Deep Water’ rather than the ‘Pete Waller’ she was singing.)

Yesterday was a stones kinda day.

But today is better. Why? I think it’s all about your mental approach and having a system to deal with these things and get yourself back on course.

For me, one of the first things I try to do is get my mind thinking in a way that’s helpful to me. I picked up one of the many, many inspirational books on my shelf and looked for help. The first page asked, ‘Where will you be five years from today?’ (It happens to be the name of the book too.) It was all I needed. That one line gave me my problem and my cure.

Problem – I’m not exactly where I want to be.

Cure – Make a plan to get there.

The other thing was that it reminded me that I had made a plan, I had been sticking to it, and I am slowly getting there.

Where I want to be is published in fiction. Where I am, is writing stuff for other people to make money. (A good substitute, because I do like eating and paying my bills.)

My plan is to give myself two years to continue this way, keep finishing all my half-done projects and put them out there. I’m not starting another new thing until they’re done. Everything new gets jotted down and stuck into the ideas file.

It didn’t turn my day into a diamond, but it made it possible for me to keep on going rather than getting stuck in a rut.

So next time your day is stones, inspire yourself. You know what to do. You’ve done it before. You will do it again.

And finally, here’s another piece of inspiration from the 5 book – Give yourself permission to aim high in work and life. Take time to dream and plan.

 

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Many writers will tell you that you need to write every day. It’s something I beat myself up about regularly. (Just add it to the list. I’ll do anything to procrastinate a little longer.)

A perhaps slightly lesser known piece of advice is to begin typing something that’s already been written. You know, you grab a piece of writing – yours, or a copy of War and Peace you happen to have lying around – and you simply type it out. The idea is that eventually your mind will begin to wonder towards its creative side and you’ll start typing some new words. Your new words.

I guess it’s a kind of, ‘if you build it they will come’ thing. You’re saying to your brain, ‘Okay, I’m here at my desk. My fingers are typing away. Now bring it on.’

On most days I do write a lot of words, but very few of them are for me or my creative works. But you know, somehow, even the act of writing and editing technical documents, business copy and all the rest of it does help me in my own daily writing. I mean, I don’t want to pump out garbage on any job I’m doing. So I try to be as creative as possible within the confines of the work. And by taking this approach, it means I rarely have the problem of sitting down and confronting a blank page.

When I reach for my creative work, all those hours of writing other people’s stuff have been my training. My mind and body have been here before. They know what has to be done.

You can do it too. The secret of success is it to keep it simple and start slowly.

If you hadn’t walked further than your letter box for years you wouldn’t expect to compete in a marathon. Writing’s no different. If you’re a really unfit writer, use somebody else’s words to get you going and get your body used to the idea of sitting and typing words.

It might be the ultimate cheat, but hey, whatever works – right?

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This cartoon is by Dave Walker.

Thanks to Naomi Dunford at Ittybiz, and her insightful newsletter, I’ve been motivated to get my act together. As usual, my paid work is all filed and prioritised but my personal work is a mess.

So I went through all the dark and dusty cupboards on my hard drive and discovered a far more significant body of work than I ever imagined I had. And most of it was, you guessed it, unfinished. But most of it was almost finished. What a waste.

I made up a new folder on my desktop (so it couldn’t escape my eye) and put everything in there. Then I went through it all and chose the smallest (word count wise) project I had and I finished it.

Now I have an early reader manuscript sitting on my desktop. I’m going to let it brew for a week before I look at it again and get it ready to submit.

The amazing thing was – it was so easy. And now I’m feeling great about my writing, instead of feeling like I’m failing.

If you want to feel great about your own writing, go finish that short story, essay idea, whatever it is. Choose the one you know is going to be easiest and stick with it until it’s done. That doesn’t necessarily mean you have to do it in a day. It might take a week, it might take a month. But make that project your priority whenever you do have some time to spare. If you have other ideas, jot them down and stick them in an idea file for later.

They’ll still be waiting there in that dusty cupboard when you’re done. But in front of you, you just might have a shiny new manuscript as well.

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Start. Do anything. Do something. Act.

If you can do one small thing today, you are one step closer to your goal.

Do you have a goal?

Perhaps today is the day you work out what your goal is. Because that is enough to take you one step ahead and how to make progress. (Well don’t just sit there. Get a piece of paper and do it now.)

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Words that don’t rhyme

I thought it was only orange that didn’t rhyme, but apparently there are more. And some of them are also colours – silver and purple.

There’s also wolf and window and poem (wouldn’t you say gnome?) and gulf and nostril (who’d have picked it – ha!) and month.

Perhaps we need to invent some more words, like dolf and findow and costril. Is that how it works? We just throw some letters together, then think of something they could refer to? I’ll work on some meanings now.

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A friend took our advice and set a goal to rise a mere 10 minutes early and do some writing. (All good so far – she loves us – she thinks this is great.)

Then she proceeds to burn her hand (significantly) on an overheated cooking utensil. (Not so good now – she’s in pain – she hates us.)

Why? Well because it’s all our fault of course for making her set that goal of getting up early, so now her mean subconscious had to step in and sabotage all these useful plans that would actually get her (slowly) to her goal of writing and instead end up in agony, clutching bags of ice that she melts like a Marvel superhero due to the smouldering heat eminating from her smouldering palm.

Now as far as excuses go, this is a good one. I mean, the amount of painkiller she downed would probably stop an elephant from rising and painting art for charity. STILL, it got me thinking about excuses. About the fact that I’ve made a truckload of them in my lifetime. That if only I’d written them down I would actually have enough words for several novels – but none of them good. (Okay, third degree burns do constitute a good excuse. But that’s not one that I can truthfully use.)

At the moment I have several reasons for why I can’t possibly get on with writing this script that I’m being paid to write. Being. Paid. To. Write. Yes, you read that write, right. What the hell is wrong with me?

A lifetime of training in making excuses, and it’s gotta stop. Excuses might make amusing anecdotes for cafe conversation, but they can make the rest of your life a misery. This is what I want to be doing. Why am I not doing it? I’ll tell you why… [insert pathetic excuse]

So what’s your best excuse? Got any good ones? We could write a book you know!

 

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Today – we set goals, we set deadlines to achieve them, we made them realistic.

Today – we took our own advice, we got organised, we put down on paper what is possible.

Today – we stopped shuffling all the half thought out ideas, half written concepts, and we set them on a path to completion.

What are you going to do today? What are the possibilities you’re ignoring? What are the things you can set goals for? Complete? Finish?

Potential’s not enough. Ideas are not enough. You need a plan. You need to write it down.

So, what are you still doing here? Go plan!

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