You can’t build a reputation on what you are going to do. – Henry Ford
Are you being killed by your own procrastination? If so, you are in great company. Herds of us creatives wrestle with that bear. Over the years, however, I have observed that the best way to move beyond the nasty P word is to simply get started. If you need some help in this department, you might want to avail yourself of one or more of the several free online sources that offer daily prompts, challenges, and participation in writing classes. That is what has helped me this time.
Before this month, it had been a long while since I actually had written and painted much at all. For the longest time, fear was one of my greatest deterrents, but now my greatest obstacle is just simple inactivity. Once I stop creating, my idea well runs dry. I become an absolute Waste Land. When I am in the Wasteland mode, I probably couldn’t even buy someone else’s idea and follow through with developing it.
On the other hand, when I actually begin creating, my pen and my paint brush cannot work fast enough. The ideas are like Tupperware lids, they rapidly reproduce. When I am actually creating, it is as though the heavens themselves open wide. Story starts, illustration ideas, and painting potentials flood down. Allow me to give you an example.
During the entire past summer, I have worked almost incessantly in my garden, and as I worked, I promised myself time and again that as soon as summer ended, I would begin a diligent effort in my studio and on my laptop. I have several ideas for picture books that I want to write and illustrate and for other writing projects, too–the foremost among those is my memoir.
From past experience, I knew that the best way to prime my creative pump was to just get started. The first of this fall’s bad-weather days, I searched my computer for free prompts, writing classes, etc. I was seeking something that might prod me into action. I discovered the WordPress Daily Prompts, and I began writing in response to those cues and/or ideas immediately. I also discovered WordPress Blogging U. I did not believe that poetry was my interest, but the only class immediately available was Writing 201: Poetry. “Blahhhhh!,” I thought to myself.
The first days of the Poetry Class, I barely showed up. By midweek, however, I was on fire. Yesterday was Limerick day, and I wrote about 10 limericks in 2 hours. As is typical for me, the more I wrote, the more ideas I had for writing even more. When I become as enthusiastic as I was yesterday, I am almost manic. The ideas attack me night and day. Thank you to my poetry teacher, Ben Huberman. The Writing 201 Poetry Class has been great.
I’m a born-again creative. But this time, I am following through. I already had a few old starts, and I had decided that I would force myself into completing something for the Annual Writers Digest Competition. I thought that the deadline might be soon, and I began searching for that info, too. In doing so, I bumped into the Writers Digest October 2015 Platform Challenge. When I registered for that opportunity, I had no idea what would come my way. As luck would have it, the Platform Challenge has forced me to act on the business side of what needs to support what I am doing creatively.
If procrastination is a problem for me, business is a hurdle. Prior to beginning my October classes, I already had almost-completed picture books–almost ready to mail; yet, there they were: lying fallow. Although I had a wordpress blog, I had no actual website, and my Twitter account had rusted shut. Business is a nuisance for me, but because of what the instructor Robert Lee Brewer asked, I began building better business habits. Has it worked? Well, I just took a screenshot of my most recent WordPress Stats. You will see that the answer is a resounding Yes.
My actual website has only been up for a couple of days. Because it is not as good as I want it to be yet, I have not done anything to optimize it. I have not even intiated any tagging efforts. Yet, in 2 days, my website got 85 hits.
In summary, for every reason imaginable, my getting into a few Free writing challenges and classes has jump-started me immensely, and it has done so through small, easily digestible challenges:
Nothing is particularly hard if you divide it into small jobs.
Henry Ford – 1863
How do you eat a cow? One bite at a time. – Anonymous
copyright Jacki Kellum October 8, 2015