Have you ever thought about the difference between creativity and productivity? Or struggled with how to be both? It seems to be a theme that is popping up a lot – perhaps because January is simultaneously a season for nature being at rest, in preparation for the creative burst of spring, while the modern world is trying to be as productive as possible, implementing new habits, losing weight, and finally doing the things they had been procrastinating through Christmas.
On the one hand, pursuing creative work is a worthy goal. On the other hand, it’s hard to look at a day that looks like January — where not much happens with that lengthy to-do list — and say, well, at least I was creative, even though I have nothing to show for it.
Where is the balance? Every great writer seems to offer the same advice about creative work: it’s still work. You can’t just wait for a muse to strike you, you have to sit down at the keyboard every day. But is creativity the same as productivity?
This came to my mind recently because I’m about to take up a long-neglected project that, to be honest, isn’t at the top of my priorities list. It isn’t something I’m enthusiastic about. But, frankly, it’s something that needs to be finished.
This is one of those situations where I do want the goal, but I don’t want the process. But in the grand scheme of things, I am almost done, and my husband reminds me that an undone project can lead to being unsettled – and I definitely don’t want to keep being unsettled.
So, as I sat on my sofa, wondering how I could motivate myself not just to finish the project (I’m definitely motivated for it to just be done already), but to do the project so that it will be done, it occurred to me that I need concrete measures for success along the way.Continue Reading
We’ve all had mental blocks. Whether it’s writer’s block, a total lack of ideas for projects, or just feeling “stuck” about what to do next, everyone experiences creative dry spells. In those moments, I’ve noticed that a pen and paper, rather than a blank screen and blinking cursor, are an immense help. Here are seven reasons why. Continue Reading
Last week I had a creative project to work on. I needed to come up with an idea, but I found myself completely and utterly blank. Usually I can think of something, however bad, to start with, and then edit and analyse and improve… but this day I was empty. I couldn’t even think of one single terrible idea, let alone a good one.
Still, I was trying to be disciplined and so I took Ann Pachett’s advice and applied it to my situation. I went to a coffee shop with a notebook and a pen and I just sat there, staring at a blank page. Continue Reading
Ann Pachett has some great advice on writing that applies to an awful lot of our endeavours in life:
“If you want to write and can’t figure out how to do it, trying picking an amount of time to sit at your desk every day. Start with twenty minutes, say, and work up as quickly as possible to as much time as you can spare. Do you really want to write? Sit for two hours a day. During that time, you don’t have to write, but you must stay at your desk without distraction: no phone, no Internet, no books. Sit still quietly. Do this for a week, for two weeks. Do not nap or check your e-mail. Keep on sitting for as long as you remain interested in writing. Sooner or later you will write because you will no longer be able to stand not writing, or you’ll get up and turn the television on because you will no longer be able to stand all the sitting. Either way, you’ll have an answer.”
—From “The Getaway Car” in This is the Story of a Happy Marriage