Last week Creativity wrote a post about riding your creative wave, in which she mentioned our experience writing a particularly challenging blog post. She pointed out that if your Creativity is finding your current project boring, you should move to a project he or she is more interested in.
While I realise there is a lot of merit in this (and I have seen the benefit countless times) I do feel I should expand upon the subject further. We cannot always drop a project just because our Creativity refuses to play ball, or wants to play backgammon instead.
Tiv likened the situation to getting a child to eat vegetables. The analogy is apt because, although we all love to eat sweets, we cannot live a life without vegetables, however enticing that prospect is to a five-year-old. There are times when you just have to sit your Creativity down and make him or her eat the vegetables, just to prove that icky greens aren’t so bad after all.
How? Here are some of my tips. (You may notice the points suggested work equally well on children. Need I say more?)
- Don’t be afraid of inactivity. I think it’s worth saying first off that if your Creativity doesn’t begin spouting ideas as soon as you sit down, don’t be too perturbed. Often your head, and your Creativity’s surroundings, needs to be completely blank before the idea hits, almost like the calm before the storm or the blank canvas before the painting. The poet William Stafford likens this moment to fishing. Your Creativity may not necessarily be turning up her nose at the greens, but simply examining them for caterpillars before she begins munching.
- Set a timer. If your Creativity really is sticking her tongue out at you every time you try to get serious work done, then this may just be a matter of habit forming. Your Creativity might not like being tied down the same project over and over, but if you make it apparent that you’re going to sit there and stare at that project for a set amount of time every day, eventually he or she may take the course of least resistance and join in.
- Have a reward system. I know we say this often, but it’s a truism; sometimes the best way to get work out of someone (especially a reluctant someone) is to provide an irresistible reward at the end. It can be anything from chocolate to spending time on a different fun project. Check with your Creativity what would work best for them, and then carry through on your promise.
- Mix it up a little. As Tiv mentioned in her post, by making your vegetables more interesting, or by changing the way you present them, the greens become more appealing and exciting. So why not change something about your environment? Go to a cafe, or sit in a park. Or perhaps change your expectations. Maybe you need to inject a little more fun into the project to bring Creativity’s attention back. Does your project need some visuals to stir the ideas? Perhaps write in a different voice, change the setting of a scene, dream up a new character, add something unexpected. What can you change to make it fresh again?
I add as a reluctant addendum that there are times when you should allow nature to take its course, realize your child may have a lifelong hate of cauliflower and leave it at that. The same is true on a creative front. As much as I hate to admit it, I’m sure Creativity would agree with me when I say that some ideas, projects and posts should be left to fade away. If the spark is gone and shows no sign of returning, then let the thing die a dignified death. Nothing is ever a total waste. Often what you were working on helped you to find your way to the next idea or at least define what you are not looking for.
But don’t give up on your projects right away, even if your Creativity is uncooperative. It’s possible that with a little change to your routine, you can bring him or her back into line and have them chompin’ their veggies with vigour.
Have you come across this problem with your Creativity? What solutions do you find helpful?