It is always amazing to me that when I am having trouble in an area of my life, a teacher appears. Lately I’ve been struggling with my creativity. Having felt blocked for several months, I teetered near the edge of burn-out and began to loathe sitting down at the computer to write.
Out of the blue, an offer to review a new e-course, "Take Back Your Creativity" appeared in my inbox.
Sure, I fought it. "Another e-course? Who has the time! And they’re so hard to read, always needing to be on the computer." (whine, whine whine).
But when I opened the course, I was shocked to find that the course was offered in three formats: Kindle-ready ebook, screen-friendly and printer-ready. Plus all the bonus materials (interviews) were provided in PDF, Kindle and MP3 format. Talk about making it easy!
And the course material itself was written in a way that was exactly what I needed to hear.
The book is divided into three sections: Integrating Your Daily and Creative Lives; Increasing Creative Output and Overcoming Creative Blocks.
Integrating Daily and Creative Lives
This section of the book deals with where to find the time to be creative. And the first step in finding time is to know where your time is going now.
I took the book’s advice and installed RescueTime, a free tool that tracks what I do on the computer. In spite of the fact that I am very productivity-motivated, I found that I spend a lot of time in email. A LOT of time. (Read: too much time). Disconnecting from the internet makes putting together the blog difficult, so I re-installed LeechBlock to give me the space I need to get away from the distractions.
One of the things I really liked about this first section is that she didn’t insist that you do a minute-by-minute time log. I’ve never been successful using that type of approach; rather the automation tools for the computer and an end-of-day log will do. She understood that we’re not trying to get lost in the detail of everything we’re doing, but rather find the general trends.
The rest of the module was how to get more time out of your schedule and how to inspire yourself to use the time you find. I have never been encouraged to make an inviting space for writing before; yet this idea resonated with me because my environment really does affect my writing output.
Increasing Creative Output
Let’s face it. Most of us don’t have large chunks of time when we can be creative. Michelle gives us ways to use bits of time very effectively.
The first technique is to find what she calls micro-actions. This method is about eating the elephant one bite at a time. Find some small things you can do, and list them out. Listing them out makes them much more likely to be acted on when you do have that bit of time. This was something new for me. I’ve heard of the concept, but I’ve never actually written the actions down. I find it amazingly effective, because I don’t have to do any thinking, just creating.
The rest of this module has so many techniques for getting things moving. They range from the practical (swipe files, timers) to attitude (the flow state) to ethereal (defining done) to counter-intuitive (increase output by increasing input).
This module is chock-full of prime techniques and ideas that are easy to implement. It’s like I was given a whole toolbox in one place; I can pick and choose what works.
When one thinks of blocks to creativity, it’s generally performance based: writer’s block and the like. But there are other blocks to creativity, from financial worries to self-talk to stalled projects. Each one of these is dealt with in turn, with a list of resources for further help.
One of the things I loved about this section is that it wasn’t linear. After talking about creative prompts, for example, Michelle adds in the related topic of working in a different medium. These tangential topics made me think in new ways about what was blocking me.
This book was the gentle nudge I needed to get going past my creative blocks. If you are a creative-type person (and I believe everyone is), and you feel stuck, I urge you to give this a try. It was an amazing shove in the right direction for me, and really helped me snap out of a slump that had lasted a few months.
Book: Take Back Your Creativity
Author: Michelle Nickolaisen, of Wicked Whimsy
Michelle Nicokaisen, the author of the ebook, provided me with a free copy of the book enable me to write this review.