I’m working on a novel right now–yeah, the “hot skater werewolves” one I mention in my About page! I’ve been humming away on it for awhile now, and am about 1/4 through my first draft. No doubt they’ll be drafts aplenty in the future, but I’ve been speeding along with it and it’s hit that point where I’m really excited to sit down with it and spend time in this world with my characters. To be honest, though, I’ve never had much problem generating drafts–being an English major with a creative writing concentration, you could say I’ve developed a writing discipline, which I rely upon almost as much as I do my imagination. In fact, sometimes more, especially in those moments when I feel like my imagination is exhausted and I wrestle with it, yelling “LISTEN UP IMAGINATION YOU BETTER WORK OR I’MA GONNA THROW DOWN!” till it sits with me and gets down to business.
I think a lot of about creative work ethics and discipline, and I really do think that HOW artists work is a huge part of their greatness and success. I think about it a lot now in a way I never did as a fledgling writer in college, because now I have freelance work and life and dudes and blogs and way more other endeavors that compete for my time. Which is why I found this article, “The Key To Creating Remarkable Things”, to be such a nice reminder to put first things first and try to start my day with my creative labor of love instead of someone else’s priorities.
“The thing is, if you want to create something truly remarkable, it won’t be built in a day. A great novel, a stunning design, a game-changing software application, a revolutionary company – this kind of thing takes time, thought, craft, and persistence. And on any given day, it will never appear as “urgent” as those four emails (in the last half-hour) from Client X or Colleague Y, asking for things you’ve already given them or which they probably don’t really need.
So if you’re going to prioritize this kind of work – your real work – you may have to go through a wall of anxiety in order to get it done. And you’ll probably have to put up with complaints and reproaches from people who have no idea what you’re trying to achieve, and can’t understand what could be more important than their needs.”
So nice to be reminded of, especially with book proposals and drafts and freelance design projects afoot. Other things I find that help me to keep my priorities in check:
Not checking email except at set intervals throughout the day. Nothing kills a creative buzz more than an interruption. And nothing interrupts me more than email and Internet.
Getting up early. Even a dedicated night owl like myself has learned to get up just a bit early to work on my creative work. It’s painful, but the rush I get afterwards for making time for what’s truly important to me gives me a bit of a lift throughout the day. It also makes accomplishing everything else so much less stressful, because in the back of my mind I’m not going, “AND YOU STILL DIDN’T WORK ON YOUR NOVEL, JERKFACE!” (My mind often swears and yells in capital letters, sorry.)
Every little bit helps. Even 15 minutes can be enough to keep you in touch with the world of your story, not to mention the writing muscle that keeps you going. I used to think that it wasn’t worth the time to sit down unless I had hours of time to work on my story, but I find just doing a little a day to a lot less guilt-inducing, keeping my mind more agile and connected to the story. In the end, it’s this connection to your imagination– the pleasure and importance of touching that world you’re making in your buzzing brain–that’s more valuable than the actual pages sometimes. Whether your world is your story, your invention, your business, or whatever–even a tiny bit exposure to that love and lightning will hit you with a bit of energy and joy. Do it often enough, and it can start a real creative fire.