Communication

This Week I Could Use Some Creative Advice from You

November 14, 2016
Creative

I think. A lot.

I don’t mean to; it’s a part of my personality. The wheels in my head are constantly spinning, constantly in motion, constantly looking ahead for what’s next.

As much as I’ve honed an active imagination into a strength to push me forward – Where do I wanna go? How can I improve? What’s the next big idea? – in the past it has equally been a problem, something I’ve had to learn to manage in a healthy way. At one point I was taking three types of medication to help me manage it.

But I don’t anymore because I learned skills, developed healthy habits, and stopped judging the fundamental parts of myself that didn’t fit the world perfectly. One of those habits is precisely this: the act of writing. While I’ve always been in love with the idea of writing, to be completely honest it has only been since starting this blog that I’ve fallen in love with the act of writing.

It’s not an easy love, either. I don’t just sit down and gleefully write these pieces. Each time I enter into a space of self-doubt about what I’m doing and what others will think. Who am I kidding, anyway? I’m not changing the world with this content. No one asked me to do this.

Is it worth the time? I ask myself this question every week.

What is my ultimate goal for writing these pieces, anyway? On the surface it’s to begin to develop an audience, to have a voice, to practice writing, to develop a personal brand. On a weekly basis, my head motors through ways of making that happen: submitting content elsewhere; promoting content on other sites and through paid services; incorporating more video and images for audiences that watch but don’t read; inviting othes to contribute content. Then, as all these ideas come to me about how to make this content stand out, I’m continually faced with two big constraints: money and time.

The money constraint I can live with; it’s the time constraint that bothers me the most. I’m not just talking about the time it takes to brainstorm/compose/write/film/edit/upload good content, I’m also talking about that buffer time in and around it – that transition period from the life-grind headspace into one that’s emptily surrounded by free-floating creativity.

It’s not really a switch you just flip (at least it’s not for me).

Did you happen to catch my blog on the one-month vacation I’m taking? This little “tropical” writing sabbatical I’ve managed to scrape together is a little over a month away and as it approaches I’ve been struck with a dilemma: What should I focus on writing during this time? My original idea was to get the ball rolling on a book that’s been brewing for many years now, but another side of me is wondering whether the time would be better spent on beefing up this blog. As it stands, I have a hard enough time balancing all the stuff I want to get done in a week, including these blogs – adding “write a book” to the list simply isn’t practically possible. I would need to drop (or heavily cut back on) something to make room for it.

All the “Should I write a book?” listicles tell me that the decision should first and foremost be about doing it for one’s self – without the expectation that anyone will read it (and certainly not because you’ll make money off it). The logical part of myself believes this reasoning wholeheartedly, which leaves me in doubt. The thought of writing a book so that I can say (to myself) that, Yes I did that, while the book sits on a shelf and collects dust doesn’t sound very appealing.

There is value in committing to a longer writing project – I do know that. What committing to this blog has really brought me is the confidence to know that I can do this. I actually do have that ability to write, and I enjoy it. Maybe that’s the accomplishment I should be focused on – but how can I use that accomplishment to get me where I want to go?

Because I have a pie in the sky I’m aiming towards: one day in the future I would like to write for a living. I don’t know if that’s possible, or exactly how to make that happen, but I still want it. Woven into that is a desire to find the space – in life, in time, in purpose – where I’m free to write, where creativity is accessible. I don’t want the grind of life to blot out my creative self.

I had a creative insight the other night while doing the dishes: What if there was some way of marrying the blog and the novel writing into one, by making the blog about writing the novel and all the experiences that process entails? While the book I want to write is a piece of creative non-fiction (a closely “based an actual events” story about three generations of my family), by contrast the blog pieces are meant to be practical and accessible to the audience. To switch the focus of the blog to something entirely based on creativity at first glance feels a bit selfish. At the same time, when I step back and look at the lifestyle ideas and perspectives I write about, all of it – all of it – is about finding creative ways to offset the day-to-day negativity so that what’s good about life can float up to the surface.

It’s true: the reason I go to the gym and watch what I’m eating and practice a mindful approach and write about it is because I don’t want to take those pills anymore. I want my creative self to float up to the surface – and I recognize that an intrinsic part of that creative self fluorishes in the conversations I’m having with you, the reader. Would the solitary experience of writing a book over the course of several years be the best choice?

I’m genuinely not sure what to do. Where in the past I would have harboured that uncertainty, I’ve learned that reaching out is important. So I’m asking you: What are your thoughts on this, or anything I’ve written? Should I switch gears to a longer personal project, or strengthen the conversation I’ve already started here on this blog? Or, is there a way to do both, considering the time and energy constraints I’m up against?

If you have any thoughts, feel free to leave a comment or message me directly (but no pressure). I genuinely appreciate your thoughts.

Mike

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8 Comments

  • Reply Anonymous November 14, 2016 at 12:08 pm

    Mike,
    Ask your self a very important question…
    What path should I embark, while acheiving what is most important to me, my wellbeing, health, sense of peace, joy, etc. It’s the only way to be true to yourself, and live wholeheartedly.

    • Reply Mike November 14, 2016 at 12:45 pm

      Great advice, genuine thanks.

  • Reply Anonymous November 14, 2016 at 4:03 pm

    Hey Mike,
    One angle to consider is that since your vacation time is not long enough to write a book and your blog -despite time constraints- seems to be getting written, is take the time and creative space to simply answer the questions you have posed.

    A fresh perspective in a fresh environment.

    I have set aside many blocks of time for the same reasons you have. Taken a week holiday to clear my head and “zone-in and work” expecting to come out the other end with some masterpiece only to find that the stress and expectation I put on myself clouded my head and while I did work, it was not my best work. As the time grew short I grew more and more stressed.

    You’ve asked:

    Where do I wanna go?
    How can I improve?
    What’s the next big idea?
    What is my ultimate goal for writing these pieces, anyway?
    Should I write a book?
    how can I use that accomplishment to get me where I want to go?
    What if there was some way of marrying the blog and the novel writing into one?
    Would the solitary experience of writing a book over the course of several years be the best choice?

    To come back with these answers alone would be a success.

    A new inspired direction can drive you past perceived time constraints.

    And you never know, true creativity may strike you while your there if you give your self the freedom simply allow a new direction to come without expectations.

    If time constraints are your enemy, don’t impose them on your escape.

    • Reply Mike November 14, 2016 at 7:40 pm

      This is amazing, definitely puts things into a perspective for me. Thanks a ton.

  • Reply elfaworld November 14, 2016 at 7:38 pm

    My favourite pieces you have written are the ones of a psychological nature….perspective and insight into calm, how to look at the world and be in the world. They are printed out and I re read them often – they are jewels that I treasure. You have an incredible way of making sense. As someone who just published their first book – I’d say do it…do it for you, because it is a story you want to tell, something that has been itching at you to express, and to share. The pen to paper changes – who knows what writing a book will reveal about yourself…perhaps more insights you can share with your followers…. just know I will always be your #1 fan xx Patty

    • Reply Mike November 14, 2016 at 7:46 pm

      Thanks, Patty – your support really means a lot. 🙂 Great advice.

  • Reply Anonymous November 14, 2016 at 10:19 pm

    Loved this piece
    My advice is to not put too much pressure on yourself to produce anything out of only a month. Getting the ball rolling might mean you write the opening sentence or paragraph and that’s it, etc. I also think writing a book is a long term version of what you write about: “finding creative ways to offset the day-to-day negativity so that what’s good about life can float up to the surface.” It’s a natural evolution to ask this question year to year, or decade to decade.

    • Reply Mike November 14, 2016 at 10:28 pm

      Thank you for the thoughtful advice. Very much appreciated.

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