Jul 312015
 
mountainshout

I’m here. Now what?

It’s really weird how it happens. I’m on top of the mountain and things never look the same/

It’s always fun nailing a big goal or finishing that huge project, but then I have no idea what I’m supposed to do next.

My own career track — and later my frelance pattern — runs something like this:

1) Work like a deranged beaver toward some goal.

2) Achieve said goal.

3) Decompress.

4) Holy crap, this job suddenly got difficult and I can’t stay interested.

5) Not giving a rip.

6) Career change just to keep me interested in something.

Maybe I’m not the most stable person around, but a Harvard Business Review piece suggests it’s not just me:

“High-stress situations and the adrenaline rush they produce can be addictive. When the constant sense of urgency we’ve adapted to comes to an abrupt halt, we experience withdrawal.”

Okay, so I’m an adrenaline junkie. Tell me something new.

But again, I’m not the only crazy fool around here. A 30-year-old Michael Jordan did this in ’93 when he abruptly retired from basketball. He wanted to try his hand at baseball (and the tabloids suggested he had other reasons for quitting) but he’d already established himself as the best baller known to man. So what’s a guy like that do next?

HBR suggests things like gearing down a little to restock the pond, finding a fresh new project or being a mentor.

I don’t have a real answer here. Best thing I can think of is to do it again. While I was doing final draft on my most recent fiction work I was already scribbling out scenarios for the next one. Fifteen days after hitting Publish I was pounding on the typewriter for yet another first draft. So I had 15 days to decompress, semi-sorta outline, prewrite some scenes and maybe take a day or two off. Oh yes, and do a little something to celebrate and mark the occasion. Can’t forget that. But get ready to hit that next project.

How about you? Any suggestions or ideas? Please share.

Jan 022015
 
Without that creative outlet, who knows what will happen?

Without that creative outlet, who knows what will happen?

I found this post in Buffer Open, a site put together by a pretty decent Web service. Call it a primer of the creative process.

You may already know most of this stuff, but it’s a good way to start the year. The writer, Kevan Lee, lays out the following 17 ideas here. The comments are my own:

1. You’re as creative as anyone: What I create is the sum of my life and experiences, good and bad. I try to use everything in my writing and music, and hopefully it puts my own unique spin on things. I think the prerequisite to creativity is living a life.

2. Never underestimate the value of a creative outlet: Musicians gotta play, writers gotta write, and entrepreneurs gotta start a new business. Without these outlets, I get into a lot of hey-y’all-watch-this moments. Scary.

3. Make time for creativity. The same time. Every day: I have my evenings for that. Start at six, shut down at 10 to make dinner. My dog stands guard at the door during that time to warn me of intruders.

4. Embrace constraints: A job? A family? Crappy computer? The only creative time available is 15 minutes reclining in the head? Just finding the time/tools to get going takes creativity.

5. Trying and failing is better than never trying at all: I won’t even know if the idea is any good unless I take an honest whack at it. It takes me a while to know whether the story line is the bomb or is just gonna bomb until I’ve read through the completed first draft.

6. Be prepared to toss your best ideas: For each blog post I write, I have two or three that will never see the light of day and those are flat-out brilliant. I have several book projects in me that won’t work now. I can find them on my computer and I can revisit them later. Some, again, will never be written. That’s okay too.

7. Soak up all the influence you can: I’m a big reader because that’s what writers do. Maybe some ideas — even word usage or ways to turn a phrase — might stick to my brain.

8. Collect what inspires you: That’s why I love biographies. According to my Goodreads log I’ve read a few good ones: Steve Jobs (Walter Isaacson), American Sniper (Chris Kyle), Unbroken (Laura Hillenbrand), My Cross To Bear (Gregg Allman), everything by Steven Pressfield. Currently reading: Wild (Cheryl Strayed).

9. Creativity is about making connections: I try to seek out peers, other writers and musicians, entrepreneurs and r&d types. I still need to connect up with a few movers and shakers. But it’s better to connect with these people because I enjoy their company rather than just a career move.

10. Others will be better than you. And that’s a good thing: They tell me life really stinks when you’re at the top. Even as ambitious as I am, I hope I never find out. It’s like running out of goals. Bad thing. Besides …

11. Surround yourself with greatness: If you can, include the people from #10. If I can’t hang out with them in person, I’ll study their work. Some of it will rub off on me.

12. Create without thinking: That one’s for me because I’m an overthinker. But some of my best work is almost stream of consciousness. It’s also terrible, but that’s why I edit.

13. It’s okay to create alone: Even though so many people pay lip service to creativity, it scares many of them. They won’t be on board with me. But that’s fine with me.

14. Start something today: While it’s still called “today.”

15. You’ll love the rush when you ship it: I published my first novel standing up at a table in a McDonalds in Charleston SC. I know I did a happy dance as soon as I hit “submit” and everyone moved away from my table. I didn’t care.

16. Go big with your goals: Of course, cracking the bestseller list is always good, but it depends too much on other people. So shipping two novels and two nonfiction ebooks in 2015 looks pretty good.

17. Create what you enjoy: I moved away from writing crappy web content for questionable sites because, although they were paying me fairly well, I hated it. I think creating what I enjoy will be my theme for 2015.

Thoughts, anyone?

#endit#