How to have your most productive creative or writing life
1. Forget productivity
It’s a very misleading goal when it comes to writing and creating.
For example, if you only focus on how many words you write each day and not on who you are writing to, what your point is, if you are building narrative drive, you will end up with lots of words that don’t add up to much.
But you will feel very productive.
2. Make time to learn with intention
Whatever your creative practice, you could spend the rest of your life learning more about it.
This can be splendid fun and it can keep you from doing much actual writing and creating. How much more fun is it to read a book about writing then to actually write? 😜
The solution I teach in my writing programs? Identify weaknesses and frustrations as you work (keep a running list) and then go looking for a smidge of help just for that issue.
When I was writing fiction, I kept getting frustrated that my characters always twitched their mouths, sighed, and shrugged to show emotion. So I studied how to show emotion with body language.
Then I could use what I was learning right away, helping me truly learn it and improve my writing.
3. Create a flexible schedule
I hate the advice to write every day. It’s too hard for most people, especially women who are caregivers.
It also sets people up to fail because research shows if you miss a day in your habit, you may feel so mad at yourself, you don’t begin again.
What works better is to lower the bar and give yourself wiggle room.
“I will write for 4 15-minute periods without interruptions this week” and then you decide when those 15 minutes can happen throughout the week.
Or “I will sketch after dinner instead of watching TV twice this week.”
Clarity is important as is flexibility and making sure you are committing to something you can actually do no matter what.
4. Be in community
One of my superpowers is creating creative communities. I do it at the Oasis and in my writing masterminds and at my retreats.
My communities work because I have strong clear ground rules and I stay actively engaged.
Community matters to you as a creative because creating is vulnerable work and you can believe you are the only way struggling with how to build a platform to sell your work or how to format a blog post or how to get your character across a room.
But you aren’t.
Don’t create alone.
Find a community or make one for yourself that normalizes the wacky tumultuous spectacular creative life and where it is safe to talk about your struggles, to ask for help, swap ideas, and get carefully designed feedback (just what my writing masterminds do!).
5. Cultivate creative joy
It’s easy to forget why you create, what you get out of it, or to downplay the simple joy of creating as not important enough, but as one of my Oasis community members said recently,
“What if our superpower was our creative joy? What if millions and millions of us lived in our creative joy–energizing not only ourselves but the world around us? Wouldn’t that not only help us deal with the crazy world, but also change it for the better? It might sound a little Pollyanna-ish, but I wonder if injustice and inequity and disconnect would survive in the face of exponential creative joy.”
To be more “productive” focus on your joy, and let that carry you.
6. Make more “bad” art
When you focus too much or too soon on “being good” you cut off the learning process and you lose the joy.
Quantity over quality will lead you to more breakthroughs and insights if you set aside time to reflect (maybe in community) on what you created and how you want to improve the next iteration.
Make a lot, and then step back to reflect.
Here’s to your creative joy, creating out loud, and creating a lot!