The thing about being a creative is that it’s about actually finishing things. Your productivity is directly related to how much you finish.
Puttering about, experimenting, learning your craft, testing out ideas – these are all really important for developing your craft, but if you want to start to make a business out of your creativity, it requires that you actually complete things. And if you really want to sell them and get paid for your work, you are probably going to have to work to deadlines. Which sort of makes creativity sometimes feel like ‘a job.’ But guess what? That’s what it is. Being a professional is learning to be consistently productive.
Deadlines help you focus
But those deadlines actually can help us. They can keep us on track and keep us producing.
When I am stressed about getting things done, like I have been lately, I try to remember two things I’ve learned.
1) Julia Cameron, in the Artists Way, teaches that we should make a pact with God (or any creator you want to speak to) that we’ll take care of the quantity and (s)he’ll take care of the quality.
2) When I trained in journalism I learned that you shouldn’t strive to make it perfect you should strive to get it out the door.
Getting sh*t done
Both of these concepts are good because they move us past perfectionism. When we stress about deadlines, we are usually stressing about producing work that is ‘perfect’ or ‘brilliant’ in the time which is available. But that just makes us hold the work tighter to our chest and makes it even harder to get it done.
What we actually have to develop is the habit of ‘getting things out the door.’ We don’t develop our craft by toiling over one thing until it’s perfect, we develop our craft by producing a lot, getting them out the door, and trusting that each one will be better than the previous because our skills are improved by finishing things.
Not to mention our confidence.
Productivity and repetition
I write much better when I am writing a lot. Good writers churn through the material and get it out the door. Bad writers stress over every word and every comma.
Get it out the door. Let God (or your editor) worry if it’s any good. Nine times out of ten, it’s better than you think, it’s just that you’re too close, and too critical, to realise that.
Gotta go. I’ve got some writin’ to do.