As I mentioned early in the week, I hit a creative wall in the second quarter of 2013. Things weren’t happening, for me, and as the transition into Summer came around, I knew it was time to re-charge the process.
We all know, on some level, that if we keep doing things the same way we’ve been doing them, we’ll continue to get the same results. When things are going really well, that’s a good thing. Keep plugging along. Keep drawing on those reserves until they give out.
But when things aren’t going well, we try to talk ourselves into some gentle way of re-claiming the magic we once had. “I’ll try harder, next week,” I tell myself. “I absolutely won’t get up from my desk until I have new pages written. I will write first thing in the morning.” (That last one is usually the one I tell myself when I’m laying in bed at night, heavy with the burden of having neglected my creativity during the day, and determined to make sure it doesn’t happen again the next day.)
What we are often lacking, in these midnight promises and daydream epiphanies, is any real plan of action.
One of the things my elementary education professor, Dr. Kay Stickle, used to say to those of us who cowered in her diminutive shadow was, “Don’t tell a student to try harder! They don’t know what that means, harder. They thought they were already trying hard enough. Give them a specific way to achieve what you expect from them! Give them a concrete action, not some vague generality! Harder? That’s what you say when you don’t have anything valuable to offer them!”
So it is with my students, and so it should be when I am encouraging myself. I can’t just tell myself to try harder; I have to give myself something to DO that might change the pattern and reinvigorate the process.
There are three elements to making such a change: Scheduling – Tracking – Reflection.
For me, I knew part of the problem was TIME ON TASK. But an equally important problem was feeding the creative rhythm.
Next week, I’ll cover each of the elements I’ve mentioned above, and explain a little of how I am pulling myself back into the creative flow–not through empty promises and broad generalities, but through a very specific method of scheduling, tracking, and reflecting on my intellectual and creative life.
Hope to see you around.
P.S. Don’t get any ideas. I’m copyrighting “Midnight Promises and Daydream Epiphanies” as a title for some as-yet un-conceived novel or short story collection. I’ve already added it, date-stamped, into my Evernote file called, “Possible Titles”. 🙂