You know that project hanging over your head? The one that’s been sitting half-finished for months, gathering dust, just waiting for you to bring it to completion? I have several. They make my skin itch when I walk past them, covering me with the debris of guilt every time I remember them.
And once a project has been sitting there for a certain length of time (I haven’t figured out what that mysterious length is yet…a week? A month?), I subconsciously accept its incomplete state as a permanent reality. It enters the “unfinished project” zone, and its chances in ever escaping alive have dwindled to near nothing. At some point in time, I consciously accept the defeat, putting said project away in the closet (read: mausoleum).
Doomed to the Grave
It all begins with procrastination, of course. Innocent infatuation with the other projects in my life. A lack of enough time to do everything. But soon I can’t use that excuse anymore. I know that by setting the work aside for too long, I’ve doomed it to rot forever.
I may surprise you when I say that this post is not about the ills of procrastination or leaving projects unfinished. (Although a worthy topic and one I’m always working on.) Instead, I want to break all the rules by telling you to grab that recently deserted project and preemptively throw it into the crypt…er, I mean closet.
I know what you’re thinking. “Abandon the project? Quit? Accept failure?” And my responses are, “Yes,” “Not exactly” and “Never.” My reason for telling you to let your W.I.P. “R.I.P.” will make sense after you hear about my serendipitous discovery of how to trick my subconscious mind. (Muhahaha….) Read the rest of this entry »
Over the holidays, our immediate family went to Kansas City, Missouri to visit some of the extended family. The weekend was calmer than our typical visits and I was pleased to get to see and spend time with more people than I usually do on those whirlwind trips, and more importantly, on an individual level. Read the rest of this entry »
Two thousand ten was a great year. Including the completion of my first novel and winning National Novel Writing Month on a second book (oh yeah, and having a baby), I achieved many things in the realm of developing myself and my craft as a writer. But I’m hoping to make 2011 much bigger and better. The long list of goals for the year? Oh, I’ve got it. And multiple novels have made the list.
A Bad Case of the “Januarys”
On the whole, Januarys are hard for me. Sure, I like the idea of a blank slate, a pristine canvas on which to start fresh. Right now I can feel like the world around me buzzing in resolutions – diets, exercise programs, renewed work ethics, high levels of dedication and resolve. But my Januarys always end up feeling like a bad case of the “Mondays”…on steroids. I always say that January is the “Monday” of the year. And it never seems to bring motivation. Instead, all I feel is the pressure of three-hundred-and-sixty-five days to not screw up. (If you think that sounds a bit pessimistic, then you’re right. I’ll admit it.) Fifty-two weeks to create something amazing. Twelve months to make a difference in my life and in the world. (I have big aspirations, can you tell?)
But rather than searching high and low for inspiration like my normal posts would suggest, I’m taking another tactic. I’m not looking for the drive that will get me into gear so that I can crank out my goals. Instead, I’m taking the month to work on honing my focus. Read the rest of this entry »
If you’ve been reading my blog at all, you may have gleaned that I see inspiration as a highly desirable tool of motivation. It shouldn’t be a crutch, as hard work is really the best way to hone your craft, but let’s face it, when you have inspiration it makes things much easier. So when you’re having one of those highly inspired days/weeks/months, how do you hold onto the magic? How can you keep it as long as possible, free-riding on the waves of momentum you’ve created?
I see several ways, the primary one of which is just to not stop working. It’s the snowball effect: scoop up a handful, push it down the hill and don’t give in to anything that might try to steal your momentum as your creation rolls down the snowy mountain, growing all the while. But another way to keep the ball rolling comes in at a close second: protecting what you already have. Read the rest of this entry »
I love beginning a new project, but there’s something about that pristine page that can be very intimidating. I can remember many times (back when I used to draw often) sitting down with my sketchpad and pencil and staring aimlessly at the paper, trying to summon inspiration from its blank whiteness. I never won those stare-downs. That empty page means infinite possibilities, but the problem was, when something is infinite, it’s not definite. And that leads to…creative block.
Maybe there are some people who can work something amazing from absolutely nothing (take Michelangelo), but I am not one of them. I wish that I had an endless supply of creative thoughts stewing around in my brain and I could just spew one out at will. But it has never worked that way. My imagination can be very powerful, but before it will spit anything out, I have to give it something to chew first. Read the rest of this entry »
I’ve always been enamored by Lego building blocks. As a child I spent countless hours making creations out of my huge collection, never building the same thing twice. There was something about the limitless possibilities of that flat green dot-covered square and its brightly colored, multi-shaped brothers. They beckoned me to create and provided me with the only tools I needed. Read the rest of this entry »