Blogging challenge: day six

Is staring at a blank screen harder than staring at a blank page? I don’t think so.

A screen is quite inviting with its little blinking cursor, but a page just looks like an endless ocean of white.

Writing into a computer has the added advantage of being so much easier to erase and I find this comforting. It’s so easy to delete an imperfect sentence or to re-phrase an idea. The permanence of writing pen on paper just plain scares me and I can really only manage to do any creative writing when I’m using a pencil.

This hasn’t stopped me from acquiring a very large collection of different coloured pens in the vain hope that they will inspire me to actually site down and write something.

That gets me to the purpose of this writing challenge. The idea is to write every day, regardless of whether I am tired or whether I am in the mood. I need to be more businesslike in my approach and stop waiting for inspiration to strike. I have spent way too long thinking about writing and not nearly enough time actually writing. I’ve put too much emphasis on producing something ‘good’ and not enough time on just producing something. It’s quite exciting really. After all there’s only you and me here, so there’s nothing to fear.

How are you travelling with your own creative endeavours? Why not jump in and set yourself a challenge?

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The fine art of procrastination

I woke up early this morning and decided that rather lying bed having ideas about things to write about, I would actually get up and write something! How’s that for ingenuity?

After making a cup of tea, feeding the cat and pondering whether I should take a picture of the moon (it was particularly lovely), I finally turned on the computer and immediately thought of all the things I could read as opposed to actually writing anything. After spending a few minutes tidying up my desktop, I found my fingers hovering over my email account. Why not read some emails followed by a quick check of the news? At some subconscious level I knew that if I could put it off for long enough, the urge to write something of my own would pass, leaving me feeling slightly disappointed in myself.

Why we are so good at procrastinating?

I think there are a couple of answers to this question. The first and most obvious answer is fear. Writing makes you vulnerable and the more honest you are, the more vulnerable you become. There is nothing to be done about this. If you don’t write honestly, your writing will be boring and shallow. At the beginning of every new project there is a moment of fear and this is normal and natural.

Secondly, most of us are lazy. All creative activities require effort. Again, there is no cure for this. It doesn’t matter how much you practice and how good you are, it’s always going to be hard work, so just accept it.

I’m also a little out of practice as I haven’t written anything for a while (more about that later), so there’s an extra fear that I’ve forgotten how to write – not very likely since I write things at work every day.

Fortunately I reached a happy compromise which involved reading back over my own posts. This made me feel a bit more confident and inspired me to get back on the horse. It also meant that I had to take some of my own advice and just get on with it. There’s nothing mysterious about writing and nothing to be gained from not making the effort, so here we go…

You should be hearing from me a lot more over the next few months. Won’t that be nice!

What about you? Are you a champion procrastinator? What do you do to avoid doing the real work?

Keep dreaming

I am having a little holiday in the countryside with my husband. This has given me a wonderful opportunity to see new places and to eavesdrop on other people’s conversations. One of the things I have noticed is that younger people seem to talk about what they hope to achieve, whereas older people don’t seem to have those conversations. This means that they only get to talk about what other people are planning to do with their lives.

I really hope that I never get to the stage where I have no more dreams to dream. Even though I am already quite old by some people’s standards, I have plenty more dreams left in me. Perhaps this is foolish, but I hope not.

Wherever you are in your life, and whatever stage you have reached, I hope that haven’t given up on your dreams. It’s never  too late to learn a new skill or start on a new adventure so don’t be put off by people who think you should just give up.

Fear and creativity

Yesterday I watched a webinar about being creative led by Carmen Simon from Rexi Media. It was great. One of the points that she made is that everyone feel anxious at the beginning of new projects and some of us feel downright terrified.
I was given a creative project to do at work recently. It was not part of my normal role (which is creating presentations) and was a bit of a challenge for me. I was asked to do a ‘plan on a page’. In other words, the boss wanted a visual representation of our corporate plan. He wanted something visual that would give staff an instant overview of what we are trying to achieve and how they fit into the plan. He said he wanted something different and attention grabbing and a bit different.
This, of course, threw me into an absolute spin. I deeply appreciate other people’s artistic endeavours, but as you know, I’m not really that creative myself.
The first night after I was given this task I barely slept. On top of having to come up with a concept (out of thin air) I was really aware that my I would well and truly be shown up as a fraud and a failure. It gave me some insight into how artist and other designers must feel Surely they can’t all feel slightly ill, like I did? But apparently they do. According to Carmen (designer, psychologist and all round brainy person) everyone feels fearful at the beginning of creative projects. An author might be fearful that their second book is not going to be as good as the first, or that they might reveal too much about themselves. A designer might think that people will that their ideas are plebian or boring, or worse, that they aren’t very original. We all worry that our efforts will make us look foolish or exposed in some way.
What I’ve gathered from this, is that creativity is essentially an act of bravery. It takes a lot to put yourself out there time and time again.

So how did my little project end up? After trying out many variations on a theme, I finally came up with a poster that I really liked.
Unfortunately, the boss hated it so I had to make another two more traditional versions. I haven’t had any feedback from these yet, but in a funny way I don’t regret the work I did on the first effort. After working through the fear and trying our lots of different approaches I was actually pretty pleased with what I came up with and I’m sure I’ll be able to recycle the work at some point.