Is It Better to Work in Silence or With Background Noise?

There was a time that I would say it is better to work with some background noise. Hands-down. I thought I got more done and it felt kind of more like an office-with-coworkers environment. I typically had the TV on Food Network. It wasn’t ever up loud, but enough that I knew there was something going on.

Sometimes I would work with music and often found myself singing along. Obviously that wasn’t very conducive to getting anything done.

Then the cable company made some changes and we could no longer get cable through just the TV connection and had to have a box. When we moved here, I misplaced my box, so I was basically forced to work in silence. (I have since found the cable box but still have not yet hooked it up.)

I was surprised at how much more I got done. I was surprised to notice that my creativity had apparently been dulled by the background noise. I had effectively made it where I couldn’t hear myself.

That’s not a good position to be in.

I’m torn. I don’t know if I want to connect the cable box or not. I’m afraid it would mean reverting back to bad habits. (At the same time, though, I miss Food Network.) Now, the lack of TV does not mean I always work in silence. I’ve found Evan Carmichael on YouTube and his productivity music playlists. They’re mostly dance music with little-to-no lyrics. When I have a lot of stuff to do and I really don’t want to do it or I have a short time to work, I turn on one of those videos. (They’re about an hour and a half each.) One day, I got more done than I thought possible.

I don’t listen to the music a lot, but I have discovered it can be an effective tool for getting me in the mood/mindset to get things done.

What do you think? Do you work better in silence or with background noise?

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Happy Birthday, Mom!

I thought about not doing this, but I decided I had to.

You see….

My mom is a great friend and she’s a wonderful cheerleader for me. She has encouraged my creativity all my life. I don’t remember a time when she said that I would never make any money as a writer or that I should do something different. In fact, it’s in very large part because of her that I am a writer.

When I was growing up, she was a babysitter. I helped tell stories to the kids. I told bedtime stories to my brother. Eventually, I started writing them down. I started reading Writer’s Digest and other writing magazines. In college, I was reading an issue of WD while sitting in the hallway, waiting for class to let out so I could go in for the next class. A classmate sat on the floor beside me and noticed what I was reading.

“Oh. Are you a writer?”

I hesitated. No one outside of my family knew about that. “Yes.”

“Cool.” She started reading whatever she had with her and that was the end of that conversation.

I can’t — and won’t — say I was very confident when I answered, but I was confident enough to answer. And that is thanks to my mom.

So, yeah, I just wanted to take this time here to tell her happy birthday. She’s the best!

(The picture here is one of the very few selfies I ever took. It’s my Mom and I at a Kevin Welch concert at the Goddard Center in Ardmore, Oklahoma.)

Do I Talk Too Much?

A few days ago, I seriously wondered this. I wondered if I talked about creativity too much or if people (mainly in my family and circle of friends) thought I was posting too much in general.

Then I started getting feedback on some of the posts I’ve been putting out. The consensus appears to be no, I do not talk too much. In fact, I might not be talking enough about all of this “creativity stuff.” At least, not yet. I’ll be getting there. I’ll be sharing my viewpoint and theories about creativity as well as parts of my own creative path.

(Speaking of, I’ve been doing some new things that I’m excited to share, but I’ll do that soon enough.)

The more I talk, the more I post, I have no doubt I will refine my thoughts and ideas about this particular topic. And then I’ll talk, post, and share more about that progression.

In the meantime, since it is the weekend, I’ll leave this as a short post.

Happy creating!

I’m Not the Only One Talking about Consistency

Yesterday I mentioned prioritizing your creativity and how being consistent can help that. The day before, I mentioned how being consistent can be beneficial to increasing your creativity.

For some reason, I can’t let this go. In large part, it’s because I have had such issues with procrastination and inconsistency in the past. I wanted to reassure you, too, that I’m not the only one talking about consistency.

Earlier this year, Roberto Blake talked about the importance of consistency. This video is about being consistent on YouTube, but it’s good advice for other areas, too. It’s a recurring theme in many of his videos. I think his channel is an important one for creatives to subscribe to and watch frequently.

Another one talking about consistency is Tara Swiger. She did a podcast episode about eight months ago talking about consistency. She’s another one that I think is important to follow, particularly if you want to make your creative pursuits a business.

In all honesty, I could keep going. But both of these videos are good places to start and will take about 30 minutes to watch them both.

What are some of your favorite resources to encourage/promote consistency? Share them in the comments.

How to Prioritize Your Creativity

Creative Commons via catchingcourage.com

In my last post, I talked about the importance of being consistent and developing routines to help you be consistent. Something that goes along with that, I believe, is making your creativity a priority. How do you do that?

In the guest post I did for Tierra Wilson’s blog (Why Every Entrepreneur Needs to Start a Writing Practice), I suggested for people to make an appointment with themselves to do a writing practice. The thing of it is, this also helps you prioritize your creativity.

Do you have a blog post that you have to get written and posted today? Put it on your calendar. Seriously. Mark yourself as unavailable for anything else during that time, unless it’s an emergency. This is an important appointment with yourself that you have to get done.

So you don’t have a post that you need to get out there, but you haven’t created anything in quite some time. The same thing applies. Put it on your calendar/in your planner. Make an appointment with yourself. KEEP IT!

After a week or two of this, prioritizing your creativity will start to become a habit. Not only that, you will start to develop a habit of consistency that people — and you — will come to expect. That helps in many ways.

I would recommend a paper calendar/planner (and not just because I have one now) because you generally don’t have something concrete to hold and see if you use a digital calendar. Yes, you can see it on your phone or your computer. For me, though, there’s something about holding that calendar, holding a pen, and marking it off as done.

Sometimes it’s the little things that help make prioritizing something important.

Happy creating!

Are You Consistent?

Photo of reporter’s notebook by grafixtek on Flickr and used here with Creative Commons license.

Whenever we are getting ready for the day, whether the night before or the morning of, we have routines. We know what we’re going to do and in what order. This is part of how we get ourselves motivated and going for the day.

Routines matter.

If routines matter so much in the day-to-day operations of our lives, would they not also matter when it comes to your creative time? For that matter, let’s talk about your creative time for a minute.

Are you consistent? Do you have a specific time set aside that you work on creative projects or do you do it as the mood strikes or whenever the muse speaks to you?

I used to do it when the mood struck. Or when “the muse” spoke to me. I created only sporadically.

I don’t do that anymore. I create on a much more consistent basis. Why? What changed?

My routine.

I started planning my creative time. I started developing a routine for getting started.

I am currently a full-time freelancer. I write books, articles, blog posts, and short stories. I make jewelry, knit, and crochet. These are all things I do to earn money, yes. But they are also all things I do to be creative. If I wanted to be consistent, if I needed to be consistent, I needed to have a routine for getting things done.

Even as a creative, I want to be taken seriously. I want people to think that I am a professional in what I choose to do. Because of that, consistency matters. And routines matter.

Routines helped me become more consistent. Routines help me stay consistent.

Look at what you do and why. Is it working for you? Do you create — in whatever form that may be — on a regular basis? Change your routine. Or, if need be, develop a routine. See how that works for you. I’m willing to bet you’ll be surprised.

I know what you’re thinking. You can’t schedule or plan creativity. Except that you can. By having a schedule/plan/routine, you trigger your mind into knowing this is your creative time. You sit down to work and “the muse” shows up.

What do you think? Let me know what tips you have to stay consistent in the comments below.

Let Me Back Up a Minute (Ultimate Blog Challenge)

I already had blogs written and scheduled to upload for Sunday and Monday before I read through everything about the Ultimate Blog Challenge. I mentioned at the bottom of Sunday’s post that I would be posting daily in October, but since it was at the bottom of the book launch post, I can understand how it might not have been seen. I’m here to fix that.

What is it?

The Ultimate Blog Challenge is intended to get you posting on your blog on a daily basis. It increases your community and raises your blog in the ranks of search pages. (A blog that is regularly updated ranks higher in search engines than a static website on the same topic.)

So, yes, I will be posting daily in October. After that, I will determine whether I will continue a daily schedule or go back to my previous three-times-a-week schedule.

Who am I?

I’m Jen. I have 8 books published, one out of print, and multiple projects in the pipeline in various stages of development. My main focus on this blog is the creative journey/path. I’ve even started a podcast about it. I talk about my struggles and triumphs and I try to give input/ideas about things that might affect you and your path too.

What are my credentials?

Well…. If you want official credentials, I don’t have any. I don’t have a degree in counseling or coaching or anything like that. What I do have is about 15 years of studying creativity in various ways (videos, books, conferences/lectures, etc.) I’ve written two books about creativity — Devoted to Creating: Igniting the Spark in Everyone (this is the book that is currently out of print, but I hope to have it available again by the end of the year) and 80 Creativity Tips. In case you missed it, I recently published the 2018 Project Planner for Creatives. I am now working on a new project designed to help people get in touch with their creativity. Look for Journal Your Way to Creativity by Christmas.

At some point, I hope to receive training as a creativity coach by the Creativity Coaching Association. I don’t know when that will happen. It’s not a necessity for me, but it’s just something I would like to do.

Anyway…

That’s it for the rewind to let you know about the Ultimate Blog Challenge and a bit about me and how I got started.

Happy creating!