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.

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The Planner Is Coming

Front cover of a book, gray and black. "2018 Project Planner for Creatives" in white on the black band.Does that sound too much like “Winter is coming” a la Game of Thrones? No? Hmm. Maybe I need to try harder.

But seriously, I have the files uploaded for the 2018 Project Planner for Creatives. As I write this, I’m still waiting for CreateSpace to finish vetting/approving my interior files and cover.

I am also working on a way to make a PDF available for those of you who want the planner but want to print your own. While there are several project planning pages in the print version, I understand that might not be enough for some people, so you need the ability to print your own.

If all goes well, the planner will be available Sunday, October 1. It contains monthly and weekly pages for the remainder of 2017 and all of 2018. It has a place for limited advanced planning for 2019. There is a submissions log (previously uploaded as a freebie for you) and master projects list. There are project planning pages and a content idea log. There are extra blank pages to sketch/map/plan any other ideas you want to include.

I had hoped to be able to offer a spiral-bound planner, but that is not currently an option. I will look into alternatives for that for future editions, though.

In the meantime, watch this space. I will post a link to where you can purchase the planner once everything is approved and it is live.

Happy creating!

Putting It in Writing

I know and understand the need to put things in writing. So why don’t I do it more often?

For me, writing things out serves a variety of purposes.

1. It helps me to plan.

When I need to think things through and make a plan, it helps me to write it all out. I don’t mean type it on a computer. I mean get a notebook and pen and physically write it out longhand. Handwriting. Cursive.

There is something about the flow of the pen on the paper, the scratching of the nib, the feel of the pen in my hand and the paper under my hand, that ties me to the moment. It’s very tactile. And that becomes very important in the planning process. I can touch something and feel connected, down-to-earth instead of pie-in-the-sky wishful thinking.

2. It helps me to remember.

Up until about a year ago, I didn’t have any trouble with my memory. But the last six months at one particular job changed that. It was high stress. OK. It was always high stress, but the last six months were more high stress than usual. I started forgetting things. Simple things. And, honestly, that scared me. So I started writing things down that I absolutely had to remember.

I’m out of that job and no longer have such high stress levels, so my memory has been improving, but I guess writing things down became a habit, so I still do it.

3. It helps with my writing.

That sounds silly. Writing helps with writing? Of course it does! But let me explain.

There are some things that I cannot just type on the computer as I think them up. Poems are in this list. I have to write poems out longhand first. Then I revise them. Then I type them in the computer and revise as I type. And they will probably go through another revision after that.

There are also some story segments that are sticky, meaning they don[t really want to be written the way I’m writing them, so they go into a notebook first, too. If I’m writing nonfiction (like I’ve been doing a lot lately), sometimes I have to write around the subject before I can get straight to the point. It helps to write that out longhand, too, instead of dumping it all into a manuscript and then having to edit it out later.

These are my main reasons for putting things in writing. Do you have any to add to it?