Wouldn’t it be nice if we creative types had an inbox on our desk that was magically filled with definable, executable work? We could sit down, pick something from the stack, bust it out and then sit back, satisfied, smug and creatively fulfilled?
But this is an absurd idea. Creative work is the exact opposite of this.
Our job is to conjure up our own ideas out of thin air and get to work.
Not easy. And hard as hell to sustain.
But it is possible. There are two tools I’ve found that have worked far better than simply sitting around waiting for a visit from the muse.
The first tool is a book. Once I mention it, you’ll start to hear about from every single creative person you respect. I first heard about it from Johnny B. Truant and John Morrow, two impressively productive writers.
It’s called The War of Art by Steven Pressfield. Crack it open (or better yet, get the audio book so you can absorb it while doing non-creative tasks) and this book will unleash upon you the biggest can of lovingly-dispensed whoop-ass you’ve ever known.
Pressfield defines your enemy: Resistance with a capital R, and sets about telling you what you need to know to deal with it and do your work anyway. Every person who’s taken my advice and actually read this book has kicked off an impressive period of productive creative work before they were even done reading it.
The second tool is a bit nerdy, I admit. But it’s the perfect companion to The War of Art. It was developed by writers for writers and it’s called the Magic Spreadsheet.
It’s basically a gamification strategy for making your word count. Hundreds of writers track their word count on a (free) shared spreadsheet and are rewarded for a consistent writing practice. You get more points for writing everyday than you get for the volume of writing you create, thus helping to create a regular writing practice. And when those points start to add up, and you start to see how much writing you can get done everyday if you’re accountable for it, well, it is indeed magical.
My personal best streak of two and a half months of writing every single day (June through mid-August of last year) was entirely thanks to the one-two punch of Pressfield and the Magic Spreadsheet. It only ended with the life upheaval that the crippling fatigue of pregnancy’s first trimester can bring. And when you break your streak, you just jump back in and start again.
Go get started right now. Read the book, add your name to the spreadsheet and get to work. You’ll be amazed at what you can do.
This week I’m doing the #YourTurnChallenge. One blog post a day for seven days. Today is Day 5.