Posted in Creative Living, My Process, The Writer's Life, Uncategorized

Productivity & The Creative Process

It’s two weeks into a new year and I’ve been busy juggling all the hats I wear. There is schoolwork to keep up with. I am also working on a new book, outlining, drafting, plotting, and editing one that I hope to be ready to get out in April. I am also looking at getting back into the game when it comes to in-person events like conventions and doing book signings. So, I’m putting the marketing hat on more as well these days. Just trying to keep living the dream and build a better life for myself by being creative and keeping my focus on the things I can control. Which isn’t always an easy task.

New projects are usually a motivating and exciting part of the creative life. However, eventually, the excitement wanes and we find ourselves floundering trying to finish the project we’re working on instead of just moving on to another. In my 20+ years as a writer, I’ve found that nothing is quite so important as motivation. It is the thing that keeps you going on a tough day, helps get you unstuck when you’re facing a roadblock, and yet, it is often the most difficult thing to identify because it is different for every artist. There is no quick fix and no guarantees that what works for me, or any other artist, will work for you. What an article like this can hope to do is give you some ideas to try. Ultimately, it is up to you to find what works best for you.

Photo by Amina Filkins on Pexels.com

Some people like routine and stability. Having a dedicated space that they can go to that is static and rarely changes help them get in the right frame of mind. They surround themselves with things that are comforting and inspiring to them. The familiarity of space and an active routine are part of a sort of ritual that helps them to be productive. They have a favorite mug, beverage, and a favorite tool they use. The same music helps them get into a sort of “zone” and thus a cycle repeats and they continue as creatures of habit at their computer, easel, instrument, or desk.

Other artists work better under pressure. They like a deadline they can use as a competitive edge. Maybe they prefer working with an audience around them. Coffee houses are full of people on laptops. Libraries have long had tables and carrels for students and those doing research or work. Groups meet for write-ins both in-person and online. Artists get together for sessions in a park or at a local art museum. Musicians often come together to collaborate in jam sessions for inspiration and to get feedback. And many find that’s for the better.

Personally, I’m somewhere in the middle of all that. I try to give myself a combination of routine and new that keeps things fresh and exciting. Sometimes that looks like a simple conversation over the phone with a friend or a chat through a messenger service. I’ve been known to take my laptop to a favorite coffeehouse in town and find a quiet table where I can do a combination of work and people watching. I’ve also been known to change things up in my own space. Lately, this has helped me really get back into the groove.

My Desk Courtesy of and copyright by the author

Part of my holiday gift to myself was a bit of an overhaul to my desk space. I’ve had a more traditional set up for years now. I wanted to give my little hand-me-down desk a bit of a facelift and personality that matched my own. So, I’ve invested in a few items to do just that. Simple changes in color and design along with some added functionality for organizing the multitude of stationery that I’ve accumulated over the years. I have different lighting, switched most of the plastic pen cups to rose gold metal ones. And I added some extra storage drawers and trays. It arrived after my photo session but I also got myself a new mechanical keyboard in white with a rainbow of backlighting options.

These small changes, a bit of time organizing, and then taking time to write down some goals and plans have helped me get motivated and be more productive. This weekend I’m planning to get out and go to my favorite coffeehouse for a bit of time in “the wild”. I need some interation with people again. So, I’ll pack my day bag and get out for a cappucino and a caraffe of Earl Grey tea while I plod away on my laptop. Then I’ll come home to this light and lovely new space to put on some jazz and work a bit more. That’s my way of keeping productive.

It looks different for everyone. I’ll post about more productivity methods in the next post. But I’m curious, tell me in the comments what your creative space looks like and what you think it needs to be even more inspirational and motivational for you.

Posted in My Process, The Writer's Life

Start Where You Are… This Means You!

The biggest hurdle to any worthwhile endeavor in life is getting started. At 39 years old, I’ve learned this to be true of everything in life. Starting as a baby learning to walk or talk and up to now as I truly start to make a concerted effort to change careers to more artistic endeavors. Getting started is always the hard part.

I’ve started many new things in this budding new year. I fully intend to make this my best year ever. If it turns out poorly, it won’t be because I was slacking. There are three major areas of my life that are in a current state of overhaul.

  1. My career – I make no secret about wanting to eventually leave the day job in favor of working my author platform so that I can write books, help others do the same, and really do something I am passionate about in life. Starting where I am in this area means I am writing more, publishing new material, and working on this platform thing. The YouTube Channel is proving the bigger of those challenges. And I think I might have been a bit too ambitious when I said two videos a week. Fact is, I’m starting small here with the wrong computing power to do that. So, once a week is going to be it for a while until I can upgrade here.
  2. My Health – Last year was a challenge. But with heart surgery and things being back to “normal” for me, it is time to get my butt in gear and focus on getting healthier. So, I’ve joined a local 24 hour access gym and this week I start with the concerted effort to move more. I also bought healthy options for food throughout the week to make it easier for me to make healthy choices. So we’ll see how things go.
  3. My social life – To be perfectly honest, there isn’t much going on here. I’m content to be single for once. Focusing on that career and healthy lifestyle changes keeps me busy enough. I know that I should add more time with friends and maybe even try to date on occassion. I don’t really think that I have the time for that. I’m committed to my dog at this stage in my life. Yes, I am chuckling at the idea even as I write it. It is the truth though. I’ve been through the wringer with relationships. The only thing I am sure about is that my dog is loyal, fun, full of love, and super cuddly. I think we have a beautiful thing going on here. Since not many men can deal with the ambition and what it takes to be successful in this I think I’ll stick with the pup. Maybe I’ll add in a few more Saturday afternoons with friends though. I could use some fun in my life.

The bottom line here is that you have to start where you are. None of these areas are at an ideal time for me to start focusing on them. But, I’m making efforts where I can.

The one area that I don’t think needs to be spoken of is creativity. My life is creative by nature. If I am perfectly honest, I’m feeling it may be a bit too creative. I have too many irons in the fire and not enough space to do them justice. I need to give the space an overhaul and bit of a facelift I think.

I haven’t been at the easel in months. It is just taking up space at the moment. I need to try to find some way to organize the supplies so that I can stow it all away until I’m ready to just back to canvas. I’m in desperate need of functional bookshelves. I have research material all over the place that needs to be organized so that I can easily find it.

I need to set up recording space for the Youtube videos. I need better lighting to do that where I am at home. That takes space. So I’m going to have to get creative with that. On that note, I also need digital space and an overhaul in my set up. It is time to make the switch to Mac I think but that takes a big investment. I need a system that I can use for video production though. So, I’m going to have to find a way to make it happen.

I’ll make do until I can make changes though. I’m tired of using the excuses to stop my journey to being a success. I start where I am and with what I have. It can only get better from there. And that’s true for you as well.

What is it you want to do in and with your life that you’re putting off for the right circumstances? How could you just jump right in and get started this week? What small steps could you take to make those circumstances happen for yourself?

Food for thought readers.