New York Times

Confederacy of Creative Effectiveness

b317d9051fe38da3074ef24d40c319ceCreative Effectiveness 2017

What if 2017 turned out to be the most creative year of your life?

More than creative, what if 2017 was the most creatively effective year of your life?

There’s a difference.

You can be incredibly creative in terms of self-expression and ideas — without being creatively effective.

What good is creativity if it doesn’t get done? Doesn’t find an audience? Doesn’t get put into play?

Let’s make 2017 the year you put projects over the goal line. That is, finish projects.

There are a lot of horror stories when it comes to great creativity but no finish. A heart breaking example is that of John Kennedy Toole, who wrote the incredible picaresque novel, A Confederacy of Dunces.” The book is a master stroke of comedy and satire. It was published posthumously — Toole committed suicide at the age of 31 — unable to get his book out. The world would never have seen it if Toole’s mother hadn’t found a carbon copy and taken it to Walker Percy. It was published and it won a Pulitzer prize. Toole might have been reaffirmed as a human being had he somehow gotten the book out on his own. He might also have written more books to secure his legacy. Toole was highly creative, but on his own, not creatively effective.

To borrow from Toole… you need a Confederacy of Creative Effectiveness. When it comes to Creative Effectiveness, we can all be dunces. We allow anything and everything to distract us. Here are some ideas on how to do better this year.

Create a Confederacy of Creative Effectiveness, 10 Ways:

  1. Don’t just randomly create, create on a regular schedule. Do what you do every day, or at least at some regular, frequent, interval.
  2. Do it whether you feel like it or not. The idea that creativity is what happens when you are inspired is harmful to creative effectiveness. Sure, maximize inspiration, but you’ll find that if you keep after it even when you’re not inspired, that lighting will strike more often.
  3. Think in terms of projects. Make your creative effort into a project. Give it a name. Put it on your calendar. Work towards a finish date. Check your progress and adjust to meet your date.
  4. Don’t be so nice to yourself when you fall off your program. You should feel guilty when you’re not doing your work. We are all such great at rationalizing; there is always a reason to not write, paint, invent, do. Acknowledge you are letting yourself down and get back to work.
  5. Find what you care about, that’s where to focus. It’s tough to get something important or complicated done. One of the things that keeps you going is your inherent love for what you do, so, focus your efforts on those things you love. Find, and do, your passion.
  6. Get started as soon as possible. Procrastination is the enemy of creative effectiveness. So is perfectionism. Strategy, plans, and refinement are important, but not at the expense of action.
  7. If you get blocked, get help. There are a thousand reasons to stop a creative project and even one can hang you up and ruin your chance for a creative effectiveness win. If you find you’re blocked get what help you need, be it; advice from an expert, pure encouragement, food, coffee, technical help, yes, even love. Don’t be afraid, ask for help. Pay for it if you have to (not the love part).
  8. Be Bold and Confident even if you’re faking it. Everybody has doubts. About ability, about confidence, about talent, project selection, etc. Fake it till you make it, and just keep going. It’s amazing what a lot of hard work will do to improve your product or project, so keep at it and adjust as you go if necessary. Doubt but Do.
  9. Stay off Social Media. At the very least leave this to a time of day when your focused creative work is already done. Social Media is a distraction, unless your business or work Is Social Media.
  10. Get Into a Flow. Great creative work happens when you are in flow. Extend the flow from the creation to the revision, and to the implementation. Flow through projects, just keep going until it’s done.

Best wishes for your creative and effective year.

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