You Can Be Creative. Even If You Think You Are Not.

Have the words – I’m just not creative – ever come out of your mouth?

I hear them often and even apply these four words to me when I am in the dark forest of a project.

But is this a true statement?

Are some people born with a creative gene and the rest are not?

That sentence – I’m just not creative – should be abolished.

The idea that some elect individuals are born with a creative gene comes from the same people that believe writers are born. Would you believe that about a plumber, an electrician, or a doctor?

Absolutely not. Just ask Chuck Close. He was told he should aim for trade school and body and fender work in eighth grade.

These are terribly lies and limiting beliefs that keep us from living creative, fulfilling lives.

Creativity is only a name for aged, intentional practice.

I can’t count the times I have heard the phrase – I’m just not creative. I wish to stop this nonsense. If you say them to me I promise to be gracious. But remember, creativity is born out of diligent practice and exposure to new ideas.

You may have to read more difficult books and write down definitions of words you do not know to expand your vocabulary.

Perhaps it is time to tell that art teacher you know that you’ve always thought plein air painting was interesting, could they point you in the right direction?

Part of creativity is curiosity – looking for new ways of doing the same old stuff to reinvigorate or uproot established processes.

Ira Glass, famed radio personality and producer, was recorded saying that there is a gap between being a beginner and a professional in creative work. At the edge of the gap – this is where people stop.

We figure that’s it. I guess I’ll never become/attain/change ______.

Maybe you’ve stopped?

Stopped being brave or hopeful because creative work is not easy. We get frustrated with a process or even our own inability to create this great work that we know is harbored deep within.

I challenge you today, and this is just as much for me as it is for you, to examine your process. See what is in your way.

Do you need more practice?

Do you need exposure to creative ideas or people?

Are you doing the very same things that don’t challenge or inspire you and lead to the very same results?

What is in the way? What is creating that gap?

Here’s what Ira Glass has to say about The Gap:

 

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Let Your Actions Back Up Your Talk

Occasionally, I find myself in this embarrassing situation. I tell someone my plan for renovating my house, my latest book, or another random dream. Cool, they say, do you need help with that?

I stare at them realizing I haven’t touched that book in weeks, researched costs for the renovation, or fleshed out that dream. I’m talking about what I want to do and forgetting the most integral part of any dream – Action.

hear me out

My goal for this post, and I hope many before it, is to lead you to action, something I find I lose every now and then. I read books, blogs, and websites, but forget the most integral part of all of the learning and research. The follow through.

This is what Part-Time Novel is all about – becoming a writer in the margins of life. But in order to become anything you must actually work on that thing.

You can’t just talk about wanting a better marriage. You must spend quality time with your spouse. If I said I love you to my wife but never spent time cultivating our relationship, they’re just words.

Whenever I become unsatisfied with something, it is usually because of my lack of follow through. I have not taken the time to sit down and work on it.

This past weekend I thought long and hard about what I wanted in the next six months. Books, proposals, new website launches, etc., and I developed an action plan, not just a list of to dos, and have been working on them every day.

How about you? Do you ever find yourself talking and not acting?

What do you need to act on today?

Time is the currency we all have. Use it well.

Why You Don’t Need To Be Disciplined This Year

Every once in a while I’ll get the itch to play the guitar again. I’ll start by learning an easy song, play it until my wife wants to punch me, then abandon it. It happens every time.

I knew each time was going to be different. Then it wasn’t. Months later the guitar is gathering dust, again.

Why is this?

calendarI listened to a podcast called 10X talk with Joe Polish and Dan Sullivan a while back and Dan said something that shocked me. He said discipline is a bunch of garbage.

To Mr. Sullivan, you can be disciplined but you don’t just get it at the store. It’s a description of someone that has formed desirable habits.

Whether you are a runner, writer, or worker, we all struggle from time to time. If you find yourself in the place of perpetual failure consider this. You don’t need to be disciplined. You need new habits.

Starting a new habit or kicking an old one can be extremely difficult. Here are three ways to help you make them stick.

  1. Journal daily progress. Make it simple. This doesn’t have to take you an hour.
  2. Ask a friend to be your kind drill sergeant and keep you accountable.
  3. Do it (whatever you want to form good habits for) with someone.

Kick discipline to the curb. Replace it with new habits.

Why You Should Plan Your New Year’s Resolution Right Now

Imagine you hire a contractor to build you a house. They don’t return your calls and then suddenly show up on day  one with random bits of wood, insulation, a few screws, and a hard hat. Then they crack open a book titled, Building Your Own Home for Dummies. They’d be fired in like a second, right?

They obviously have no idea what they are doing, no plans, and no one to help them build it. The sad thing about this story is this is exactly how we treat our New Year’s resolutions.

We want to lose weight, write a book, start a business. But we show up on January one with an idea and a crazy commitment. Sadly, according to Forbes, only 8% of people who start New Years resolutions actually fulfill them.

So if you want to have the best year ever, fulfilling a life long dream or just rounding into shape starting January 1, how do you ensure you follow through on your commitment?

Fireworks

Recently I noticed I was lacking in my writing commitment. I want next year to be a cornerstone year for my books. So I wrote down some goals to create a plan and then contacted a friend to keep me accountable every week.

This is a two pronged attack. Preparation and accountability are two huge reasons people will follow through on their commitments. I have another friend who is a poet that sends signed checks to another writer. If they do not send each other finished work by a certain date, they get cashed, now that’s accountability!

So you plan, and have someone to keep you accountable, what else? You make the goal measurable and write it down.

Not like this – I want to lose weight!

Like this – I want to lose 20 pounds by September 30th.

If you need additional assistance with goal setting check out the SMART method posted here.

In the end, if you want to commit to something great there will be hard times. This is when you need accountability. There will also be moments of self doubt or when life gets in the way. Your plan will help see you through.

But start now. Start early.