I'm really trying to get organized and be productive again. It's quite the process and often doesn't look like it's going anywhere in all the business of every day life... until it does, and you realize you've finished huge projects and pulled your life back together and taken major steps on the journey to your dreams.
I realized something about how far along I am right now in my creative process when I found this post in the random search of my archives. That post was about wanting to be creative, but still being quiet and still...being fallow. Which can feel awful when you really really want to be doing stuff and making stuff, but is often a necessary phase in being creative. But if you keep at it and keep trying and continue to have faith in yourself and your creative process, then you do ultimately start moving.
I am right now in the motion phase of my creative journey. What a relief after standing still for so long. I'm not going as fast or as far as I want to yet, but I am picking up speed.
One of the things I'm doing to keep up my momentum and take stock of what I actually am doing is to go back to keeping a creativity log. I've written about it before, but I've decided to make some improvements.
The planner is a place where I can keep track of what I have done that day. We all know about to do lists and how gratifying it is to cross stuff off, but it is very easy for us to forget everything we are doing that never got onto the list, small things, or unexpected things, or every day things that have a big impact on your day and your creativity. That's why I keep my log. And I break it down into categories because it is so easy for me to lose my balance and focus too much on one area, all my attention might go to my kids, or I might be obsessed with painting or I might completely forget that I have to take care of myself. So I list the important categories/goals at the top of my log, and then the day of the week down the side and then write down what I've done to fit that category for the day. Simple as that. But this time around, I'm changing things around to fit my life and also to deal with some things that I struggle with, to make the log even more effective for the way I do things.
First of all, I put some pages in my handmade planner. I'm kind of loving my planner and making all the notes and lists and such. But I also love using my stamps in my planner. For some reason, when the papers we look at all day are pretty and have pleasing colors, when they feel good in the hand, I'm more likely to use them, so making my log pretty, not just a drawn in grid, helps me want to use it.
New and Improved Creativity Log Imperfect and In Action
New and Improved Creativity Log (detail) in use, with some entries and notes
One of the things I noticed right away when I started my log (this is only two days of logging, mind you) is that I am seriously avoiding Writing. I am not counting blogging as writing because I know the projects I mean to be working on and I am not doing them because I am afraid. So, when I noticed that I was avoiding writing, I filled my empty log slot with a stamp, saying "DON'T IGNORE ME". I need to know when I am avoiding something. I need to be faced with the fact that I am avoiding it. I need to stop hiding from it, because I know what my real goals are.
Another thing that I added to my new log is that I am not only keeping track of the tasks I complete, but I am also adding a star to the activities that make me feel good about myself, make me feel productive and make me feel like I can tackle the next step. I want to see which kinds of things lead to the most positive feelings. And I want to value those activities for their emotional and psychological weight.
This brings me to the last new thing that I added to my creativity log. A new category. It isn't strictly about being creative... actually neither is the whole log, it's more about productivity, or perhaps, working on the rest of my life so that I can be creative. The new category is called, "Big Girl Panties," aka "Be Brave." In this row, there is a place that I can mark down what I have done that has been scaring me, intimidating me. What I have been avoiding because it is too important, fits into my neuroses, or is too far out of my comfort zone. All those things about which I have spent my life muttering, "I cant!" This is the category that has been standing in my way, and these are the things that I need to put on my big girl panties and deal with.
This category pleases me. I feel so good when I can accomplish something that has been scaring me, even if it something so simple as emailing someone. I feel competent and capable and brave, and that means I am feeling stronger and more able to tackle everything else. This category also helps me think about the other things that are scaring me, the things I need to tackle next. I've put lists in my weekly planners of scary stuff that I am afraid of but still need to take care of. Like I said before, the more I pay attention to these things that scare me and the less I hide from it, the better it is for my creativity, my productivity and my life.
All in all, I'm really proud of the way this creativity log is turning out. It is about doing it. It is about taking those steps toward what you really want. I suppose it wouldn't even need to be about creativity, if your goals were more along the lines of career or home or business, but for me it's creativity. And something they don't really tell you before you start trying to make art or write novels or compose symphonies is that the hardest part about creating is not really about writing, painting or the act of creating. The hardest part about being creative is confronting your own fears, battling your demons, overcoming your flaws, facing your dreams and digging into the heart of all that you are.
What are the categories that you would put into your own personal creativity log? What are the things that you need to tackle to be as creative as you would like?