Saturday, 26 May 2012

Getting Re-routed!

Sometimes things get too busy in life and your creativity schedule or goal list gets a bit muddled or shot all to hell! That is when resiliency and being malleable is a tool to pull from your tool kit. My schedule is in pencil for the fact that life doesn't listen to my plans!

I have been chosen to paint one of the fiberglass cow sculptures that will be gracing our city in June. That wasn't on my creativity plan (I thought I'd done my part by helping to fill out the application to get one). What was on my creativity schedule was a commissioned painting, some illustrations for a story, to continue writing on my non-fiction book and create some textile pieces. What happened in real life was being asked to paint the cow in the midst of redecorating our guest room in anticipation of family friends arriving along with a number of meetings for three of the boards of organizations I serve on and all this topped off with not feeling well for a while.

What happened to my creative goals? They pretty much went out the window. But when I look at the quiet time I spend each morning (however bleary eyed that time may be) as a creative point, the work on the cow as extremely creative (a serendipty of creativity, just not what I had planned) and even the redecorating as creativity, I then go back to the drawing board, and reconfigure times for the other goals (luckily there is no early deadline on the commissioned pieces).

At first I felt a bit overwhelmed and a little frustrated that my goals weren't on track. But with a few deep breaths, I let go of the idea that the first schedule had to be rigidly adhered to. Reminding myself that nothing bad will happen if I reorganize my schedule, I am able to let go of the idea of the first schedule, which will reduce stress while getting started on the amended schedule. Being ok with change takes practice for some of us. Approaching amended plans with the positive self-talk of capability and ability helps give us the encouragement to set about in a new direction.

And sometimes, new directions are just where we need to go!

Friday, 18 May 2012

Scheduling Creativity

One way to help enhance your creativity is to approach it with some organization. That can be done by scheduling your creative work. You make schedules for other important things in life, why not your creative endeavors as well?
When setting up a schedule, break things down into the smallest possible step and allow for days, weeks, months, (or even years) to acheive your goals. The balance that we are looking for in scheduling is leaving enough wiggle room but getting things done in a timely, consistent fashion. Writing these steps down makes them real -- you can look at them and then act on them.

Using either a large calander, a monthly calendar printed out from your computer (Publisher has some nice templates), or a white board, putting down your steps will keep you focused and on track. Writing your schedule for creative activities in pencil also allows for adjustments.
Being flexible is important. This is the tricky part—setting firm goals that are malleable. If we are too rigid there is the chance of anxiety coming into play which could lead to feeling overwhelmed, which could lead to procrastinating which leads to, well, nothing. Being too lax and not taking our schedule seriously though can lead to not keeping our commitment to ourselves and not getting the job done either.
 The reason for writing the schedule in pencil is because sometimes our creative projects take on a life of their own and the steps have to be adjusted. Sometimes real life gets in the way as well and things have to be adjusted. But keeping that focus, rhythm and direction set in front of us helps to get the steps done. A posted schedule is our creative map of getting to the treasure: a piece of creative work!

A word of caution: don't over schedule! Putting too many things on the daily or weekly to do list can be counter productive. Allowing plenty of wiggle room is important. A trick I learned from my brother (who is a construction manager) was to figure how long it would take if all goes well and then double the time. If you're done early, enjoy; if it takes the estimated time, you were realistic. Either way, you win. If it takes longer, take note of what caused the overtime and remember to add that into your next time-plan.
It’s ok to not be working at your creative endeavor 24/7. Thinking that if you’re not working on your creative project, then you are wasting time will not be helpful. In order for you to have the creative energy you need for your project, you need to keep life balanced, so doing your scheduled task and then enjoying (or even not enjoying things like housework, day job, homework for school) will keep you in that balance.

So, firm but malleable schedules help us to organize our thinking and organize our doing.