How To Pick One Thing And Create Your Heart Out

Ah, the shiny bright new thing syndrome.

Also known as magpie syndrome. Where you always seem to be drawn to the big new idea, the latest exciting thoughts and plans that seem to promise such creative adventure and fulfillment.

Ever felt that?

There’s nothing quite like the allure of something new, and an empty page holds so much mouth watering possibility (a whole new empty journal holds even more!), it never fails to entice us from other creative projects we’re part way into.

“Maybe I’ll just begin this new project, just dip into it, see where it leads… I can come back to this one later.”

But how often does later never arrive, and the abandoned project gets added to a growing pile (physically and mentally) that remind you of all you haven’t finished?

Even if you do return to a previously started project, you can’t quite regain the enthusiasm that you had at the start. When it was the latest shiny bright new thing.

We’re in an age of instant gratification and “I’m worth it, I deserve it and I want it now”.

So it’s increasingly hard to stick with our creative projects as we’re literally bombarded with distractions and temptations.

A part of being creative is to know every stage and aspect of creativity. So if we never get past the first stage or two, it follows that we’re not experiencing our creativity to anything like its fullest.

By always ditching our projects before we’ve got to the heart of them, we’re not giving ourselves a chance to fully flourish. We’re not giving ourselves a chance to be the brilliantly creative artists we can be.

Do you want to look back over your creative life and see nothing but mediocre fragments of projects that never lived up to their promise, and you never gave yourself to fully?

The solution is very simple to say, but harder to execute. In fact we can sum it up in just a handful of words:

Pick one thing. Create your heart out…

one lane bridge
image: fatseth

When you focus all you have on a single project and eliminate all distractions (incoming shiny bright new things included) you will astonish yourself at how much you can create.

You don’t have to suddenly abandon all your different favourite media and creative ideas forever. This is just about picking one thing right now, putting everything else to one side for the time being and creating.

An example is a writing marathon. I once made a date with myself to write for 6 hours, starting at 8am. I locked myself away, eliminating all distraction (phone, internet, even music), let the people I lived with know my plan, which they kindly respected, and wrote. Non stop. I did more in that 6 hours than in the 6 weeks previously.

You don’t have to jump in and create for 6 hours. (But I’d recommend trying it at least once.)

Start small, and build. Pick something you can create from start to finish in 15 or minutes.

A poem, a sketch, a doodle. Keep it simple and do-able.

Then once you get used to creating and finishing projects, and giving them your full energy and creativity, make the projects a little bigger.

You’ll likely soon find this is the only way you want to work. You’ll stop creating a dozen projects at a time half heartedly, and create one at a time brilliantly.

Give yourself a chance. Pick one thing. Create your heart out.

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14 thoughts on “How To Pick One Thing And Create Your Heart Out”

    1. Great, let us know how it goes if you do, I’d recommend trying it.

      It’s easier once we get a taste of how productive we can be, to commit to it more often in the future. Trouble is, when we dabble in a dozen different projects and don’t get far in any of them, we build up this impression of ourselves that we’re not very creative, because our creative energy is so diluted, spread so thinly.

      If you have a plate of delicious food and eat it all yourself, you’re going to feel very satisfied after, the meal will be memorable, and you’ll want to repeat it. If however you try to share that plate between twelve people, no-one would end up satisfied, they’d probably all be more hungry than they were before they had a taste of the food, and frustrated that they couldn’t have more. The food is your creative energy and focus, the people are your creative projects. Better in this case to feed one handsomely than throw crumbs to many.

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  1. This is definitely something I have trouble with. I fall in love with the idea and get so excited by what it might mean, or what it could be, that I ‘cheat on’ my current projects with the new idea. All too often those forgotten lovers fall by the wayside, and then I end up casting aside the new mistress as well when something more exciting comes along.

    So I will endeavour to lavish my current project with all the time, energy and excitement it deserves!

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    1. That’s a brilliant way of looking at it! It’s similar with friends, it’s impossible to have dozens of friends and have enough time to give them all the attention they need. Better to have a few and them be very valuable, and valued, if that’s possible to do.

      Thanks for your comment Icy, good luck with the new level of focus on your latest project.

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  2. Dan,
    I knew there was a reason I headed here today. Thanks for the little nudge I needed to begin working again on my book. I’ve let it sit there & just need to step back into it.

    Your action words have kick started me!
    Val 🙂

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    1. I try to keep my powers of trans-continental X-Ray vision a secret, but you’ve scuppered me Katie!

      Glad you got something from the post, thanks for stopping by.

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  3. This is really very inspiring and fits so perfectly with my life right now.
    I just left a creative carreer for a desk job, bit decided to put my time and energy into my writing. For the past month I have been burning the candle at both ends creating a new website. When it is launched, writing will be my priority, and I will be giving the 6 hour focus a whirl. Thanks!

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    1. Thanks Jenny Ann. There are times when maybe we need to have two or three projects running, in fact for some it’s essential to have that variety. But we can only truly do one thing at a time to our best ability and fullest enjoyment, so if we want to make progress with our projects, picking one and committing regular time is the way forward.

      The 6 hour writing marathon was great, definitely worth trying. Don’t stop to edit or analyse, just write. 🙂

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