How to keep going
(Read web version.)
Creative work is challenging. In my experience, writing this blog and developing mobile apps, it does not get any easier, but is hugely rewarding. This post describes three hacks I use to establish and keep creative momentum going.
I draw upon ideas shared by Austin Kleon in his delightful book Keep Going.
Build a Bliss Station
What is a Bliss Station and why do you need one? Joseph Campbell addresses these questions in this way:
You must have a room, or a certain hour or so a day, where you don’t know what was in the newspapers that morning, you don’t know who your friends are, you don’t know what you owe anybody, you don’t know what anybody owes you. This is a place where you can simply experience and bring forth what you are and what you might be. This is the place of creative incubation. At first you may find that nothing happens there. But if you have a sacred place and use it, something eventually will happen.
A Bliss Station is both a space and time where you are free to let your mind wander or focus and be at your most creative. If you are a parent, it could be that it is the kitchen table after the kids have gone to bed. You may set aside time before your working day starts to focus in a study. For me, I often have an hour I can focus in the sitting room after 10:30 pm when it’s quiet. I recommend you find your Bliss Station if you have not done so yet.
In order to protect our time, we must learn to be comfortable saying ‘no’ (in the right way) to many requests for our attention. Saying 'yes' to something new often results in saying 'no' to something else of higher value (the opportunity cost). It could be something you have committed to or have yet to become aware of. Over committing time or focus limits our ability to be creative and/or effective.
Forget the Noun, do the Verb
Forget about being an author, just write. You cannot be a painter unless you paint so focus on that instead. You will not become an app developer unless you write code and develop apps. Many people want the job title without doing the work. Don’t get distracted by the thing you want to be (the noun) and instead put your efforts into the thing you need to do (the verb).
Demons hate fresh air
I got into the walking habit at the start of the Covid pandemic, in March 2020. Everyday since then, regardless of whether it’s sunny, raining or snowing, I go for a walk of between 2 and 15 miles. In the last 12 months I have covered 1400 miles, usually alone, but also with others. I walk along the local canal, in hillside woods and have completed the 100 mile Cotswolds Way. I get exercise, enjoy the wildlife, chat with people and either focus my mind on something specific or let it wander. During my rambles, I have listened to podcasts, brainstormed app names, came up with business ideas and calmed myself down after feeling stressed. Without doubt, I am physically and mentally more able for my daily walk.
How to Keep Going by Austin Kleon
This post shared three techniques I use to help keep my creative momentum going. Next Sunday’s post will examine the 80/20 Rule and how I apply it.
Until next Sunday, find your Bliss Station, do the thing that inspires you and go for a walk.