It is so exciting when you start a new creative project. Your juices are flowing. You can’t wait to work on it.
Then you start the work. You do some more work. Now some of the initial enthusiasm has worn off.
It becomes daunting. Have you even got the skill, or the time, to pull it off?
You start to doubt. You’re not sure if it is such an amazing idea as you once thought.
You start finding proof that feeds your doubt. Perhaps you have told couple of people about it and they weren’t as excited as you. Perhaps some of the initial results aren’t to your liking.
The project is taking longer than you thought. This is such a nuisance as you’re itching to start the next new exciting shiny idea that you came up with recently.
You get side-tracked for a couple of days, or weeks… or months.
All of the above is natural. Being a creative person isn’t easy. Usually you are alone in it. It’s just you, the idea and your skills! This can be intimidating.
It is only your motivation that will get you through it. Or not!
Below you will find some ideas to help you sustain your creative efforts.
Creativity is a marathon not a sprint
Don’t go too crazy out of the starting blocks or you will burn out sooner.
If you don’t have the skills then view this project as the piece of work that will teach you that ability
Seek out what you need to learn and practise it. Even if you don’t succeed as much as you would like, you will definitely improve. You will be more accomplished for the next piece of work.
Just finish something
Resist the urge to leap off to the next bright shiny exciting idea. Sometimes people get paralysed because they don’t know which idea they should be working on.
There are no wrong answers when it comes to your creativity. Whichever project you work on will nurture your creative spirit and signal to the Muse that you are serious about your work.
You will feel so much better if you finish something, even if it turns out not to be your favourite option. Don’t allow yet another unfinished project to clutter your mind and your physical work space.
Set mini milestones
Then you will always feel that you are progressing even when the end is still a way off.
Emphasise what you have already done towards the project and celebrate that
If you continually focus on what you haven’t done yet you are more likely to get dragged down by doubt.
Keep putting one foot in front of the other to get through that difficult middle.
Little and often
Creativity requires discipline. If you can develop this and get a consistent creative routine then you will progress with the work. It is better to aim for ten minutes a day and achieve it than aim for two hours a day and give up before the end of the week.
Consistent doesn’t have to mean every day, but doing something every week is necessary.
Little and often is also good for busting through fear. Nothing is that scary if you only have to do it for ten minutes!
Don’t be afraid to ask for help
That might be practical help towards the project or just meeting up for a chat with another creative person.
Find a cheerleader. You need encouragement when you are in the middle of the project and the end isn’t in sight.
Your cheerleader can also help you stay accountable.
You might not get the validation you crave
If this is the first draft of your first book, publishers probably aren’t going to be falling over themselves to publish it. That doesn’t mean though that the book doesn’t have potential. Just continue. Do another draft and make it the best that you can.
Don’t worry about how other people might receive your work. You can’t control that. You can only control what you put into it.
Remember to enjoy it
If you are not enjoying your work, analyse why. Is it just the slog of it and you’re in a down phase? Or is it really not bringing you any joy?
Are you still excited at the thought of the finished product? If not then it might be time to move on.
It is worth getting to the end of the project. It is natural to have doubts but don’t harbour them.
Imagine how satisfied and proud you will be when you finish.
Imagine how you will grow as a person which will all be great fodder for your next project.
Imagine someone else enjoying and finding meaning in the finished result.
Now get back to it!
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What a useful lot of tips, Cali. Thank you so much for sharing them.
You’re welcome. I’m glad they are useful to you.
Thank you, Cali. Very useful and helpful
I’ve been reading “When” by Daniel Pink and a whole chapter addresses middles – the middle of the project, midlife, mid career. It is normal to have a dip in motivation in the middle. We pick up momentum again when we see the light at the end. One of his suggestions was also making smaller interim goals. Just finish something.
Thanks for these insights.
Thanks for the book recommendation Colleen. Will have to check that out. Glad you found the tips helpful
Loved this post . It can apply to so many things !