Creating can be an emotional process. But there’s good emotional—even when you’re sad or the work epitomizes sorrow—and there’s bad emotional. That’s when your inner critic attacks you, calls you mean names, and causes you not to feel like creating anymore.
One of the ways you may slip out of flow when you’re creating something is if you don’t feel that what you’re producing—your internal feedback—matches what you had in mind originally, that is, your internal ideal. Of course, apprehension due to such non-matching is helpful when it warns you to go back and revise the substandard work. In fact, that’s an essential part of the flow process. It’s only dysfunctional when it makes you feel too bad to continue working, then or later…
…INNER-CRITIC ANESTHETIZING TIPS
- Let it flow. Remind yourself regularly that, while you’re immersed in the creative process, there’s absolutely no sense in feeling embarrassed. Even if what comes out at first is crude, stiff, inappropriate, or simple-minded, tell your internal critic to take a hike, that he/she/it is simply getting in your way.
- Write without thinking. According to New Yorker-published poet Stephen Perry , “If you just put down words, whatever pops into your head, meandering here and there, free-associating, allowing whatever sputters out to sputter out, amazingly, after a short interval, something takes hold, some comet wraps its tail around you like a kinetic Cheshire Cat, and you’re off.” Don’t worry about punctuation, spelling, point-of-view, character, plot, any of the technical aspects of your particular art or craft. They can always be cleaned up later.
- Write from your emotions. If you get emotionally involved enough with your subject, if you really feel it as you’re writing or creating something about it, you’ll forget to be self-conscious. If you’re not in an emotional mood, try putting yourself into one. Many artists say they listen to a particular piece of music that’s emotionally stirring as they begin creating. Experiment.
These tips all align so well with what Julia Cameron describes in ‘the Artist’s way’, that I believe this is my own little synchonicity to remind me to actually reall start doing my morning pages and start the course in earnest, instead of just reading the book.
1. Don’t overthink. Too much thinking often results in getting stuck, in going in circles. Some thinking is good — it’s good to have a clear picture of where you’re going or why you’re doing this — but don’t get stuck thinking. Just do.
2. Just start. All the planning in the world will get you nowhere. You need to take that first step, no matter how small or how shaky. My rule for motivating myself to run is: Just lace up your shoes and get out the door. The rest takes care of itself.
3. Forget perfection. Perfectionism is the enemy of action. Kill it, immediately. You can’t let perfect stop you from doing. You can turn a bad draft into a good one, but you can’t turn no draft into a good draft. So get going.
4. Don’t mistake motion for action. A common mistake. A fury of activity doesn’t mean you’re doing anything. When you find yourself moving too quickly, doing too many things at once, this is a good reminder to stop. Slow down. Focus.
5. Focus on the important actions. Clear the distractions. Pick the one most important thing you must do today, and focus on that. Exclusively. When you’re done with that, repeat the process.
6. Move slowly, consciously. Be deliberate. Action doesn’t need to be done fast. In fact, that often leads to mistakes, and while perfection isn’t at all necessary, neither is making a ridiculous amount of mistakes that could be avoided with a bit of consciousness.
7. Take small steps. Biting off more than you can chew will kill the action. Maybe because of choking, I dunno. But small steps always works. Little tiny blows that will eventually break down that mountain. And each step is a victory, that will compel you to further victories.
8. Negative thinking gets you nowhere. Seriously, stop doing that. Self doubt? The urge to quit? Telling yourself that it’s OK to be distracted and that you can always get to it later? Squash those thoughts. Well, OK, you can be distracted for a little bit, but you get the idea. Positive thinking, as corny as it sounds, really works. It’s self-talk, and what we tell ourselves has a funny habit of turning into reality.
9. Meetings aren’t action. This is a common mistake in management. They hold meetings to get things done. Meetings, unfortunately, almost always get in the way of actual doing. Stop holding those meetings!
10. Talking (usually) isn’t action. Well, unless the action you need to take is a presentation or speech or something. Or you’re a television broadcaster. But usually, talking is just talking. Communication is necessary, but don’t mistake it for actual action.
11. Planning isn’t action. Sure, you need to plan. Do it, so you’re clear about what you’re doing. Just do it quickly, and get to the actual action as quickly as you can.
12. Reading about it isn’t action. You’re reading an article about action. Ironic, I know. But let this be the last one. Now get to work!
13. Sometimes, inaction is better. This might be the most ironic thing on the list, but really, if you find yourself spinning your wheels, or you find you’re doing more harm than good, rethink whether the action is even necessary. Or better yet, do this from the beginning — is it necessary? Only do the action if it is.
(via littlemiss:Leo Babauta)
Scott Berkun on “the cult of busy,” that by always seeming to have something to do, we assume you must be important or successful:[P]eople who are always busy are time poor. They have a time shortage. They have time debt. They are either trying to do too much, or they aren’t doing what they’re doing very well. They are failing to either a) be effective with their time b) don’t know what they’re trying to effect, so they scramble away at trying to optimize for everything, which leads to optimizing nothing.
Contrary to what we might think:Some of the best thinkers throughout history had some of their best thoughts while going for walks, playing cards with friends, little things things that generally would not be considered the hallmarks of busy people. It’s the ability to pause, to reflect, and relax, to let the mind wander, that’s perhaps the true sign of time mastery, for when the mind returns it’s often sharper and more efficient, but most important perhaps, happier than it was before.
Strike “busy” in A ban on busy
I recently said a flat “no” to an interesting project. The person replied, “I get it, you don’t have the time.” I had the time, yet taking the time to do it would take me away from other things I care about — running a program, consulting, writing. What I didn’t mention to this person was that I need idle time in equal proportion to planned time; leaving time for the unplanned, and making sure there’s enough time for a bit of nothing. It’s this space that makes the planned more worthwhile.