We’re in an age where creating is easier than ever before, simply because of the vast array of choices and opportunities we have to be creative.
We’re in an age where creating is harder than ever before, simply because of the vast array of choices and opportunities we have to be creative.
Which of these two statements do you agree with most?
I think they’re equally true. The options to be creative are infinite. We can learn about any form of creating, find endless information and resources on it, and join a group about it. We can experiment any way we wish with whatever materials we want, within reason.
(Of course if your greatest creative ambition is to build a life size model of the Eiffel Tower in white gold, then obviously there are some financial and spacial considerations there that are beyond most of us!)
For the vast majority of us, our creative ambitions and desires are all well within reach.
So why don’t we create more than we do? Why haven’t we experimented in all the ways we want to?
Why do feel so anxious and overwhelmed about creating most of the time?
I believe most of this is because we don’t just choose just one project to work on, put everything else to one side, and give it our full focus, attention and energy.
Making choices can be a huge source of anxiety and stress.
I heard a story about a guy called Cleve who had great difficulty in doing the simplest of daily activities. Choosing clothing for example. He’d go to his wardrobe in the morning, and carefully choose his underwear. This would take up to an hour, even though he had exactly the same size and style of underwear in only two different colours.
Imagine extending that kind of painstaking deliberation to a whole outfit!
And yet most of us have felt this kind of stress and inability to pick just one thing when attempting to create.
“Do I write or paint or dance? If I write, do I start work on that new idea for a novel set in 18th Century France that I have, continue with my existing novel about the obsessive book collector or collate some poems for that new collection on Summer Memories?”
“If I go with the new novel, where do I start? With outlining the plot, or fleshing out the characters, or writing the key scenes? If I go with the characters first, which should I start with? Should I concentrate on describing them in third person, letting their personality come out through their dialogue, or using the dialogue of others to introduce them?”
And so it goes on, to an almost infinitesimal level of detailed deliberation. I’m sure you’ve experienced a similar situation, and the ever increasing frantic anxious tension that builds inside.
We’re brought up in the Western World to believe that more choice is always a good thing. But more often than not we are crippled by the sheer variety of choices we have available.
Who’s going to enjoy coffee with a friend more out of these two?
Amy, who goes to a coffee shop where the choice is simply black coffee, white coffee or tea, quickly chooses and spends the next hour enjoying the company of her friend?
Or Elly, who goes to a fancy coffee house with 27 different varieties of coffee, and spends 15 minutes just choosing her drink, then the next 45 minutes only half engaged in conversation with her friend because she’s wondering if she made the right beverage choice, and keeps checking out what other people chose and trying to gauge how much their relative enjoyment is?
When we have too many choices, more often than not we choose nothing. If we have too many options as to what to create, then guess what? Yep, we end up creating nothing.
So what’s the answer to this choice overload? What can YOU do to stop bludgeoning your creativity to death with the weapon called choice?
The answer, as you would expect, is very simple.
It can be distilled down to 3 crucial steps:
1. Pick one thing to work on.
(Any one of your current projects are worthwhile.)
2. Set a fixed time to create and remove all distractions and temptations.
(You only need start with 15 minutes. You already know your biggest distractions and most dangerous temptations. Eliminate them.)
3. Create your heart out.
(Don’t stop for anything but the most urgent of emergencies. Just create.)
That really is all there is to it. You can create more in these focused creative sessions, than if you dabble all day in a dozen different projects and not get anywhere significant with any of them.
A final thought to help you:
You will never ever have the time and energy and resources to fully explore every good creative idea you have. You might be lucky if you explore ten percent, or even one percent of them. This fact is so liberating once you accept it.
So wouldn’t you rather focus on creating a few projects to your full ability, throwing everything you have into them and feeling a great sense of pride and achievement, than dip in and out half heartedly to a few dozen? Of course you would.
You know what to do. Pick one thing. Set time aside. Remove all distractions. Create your heart out.
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