Tag Archives: Productivity

Creative Juice #96

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Creative Juice #96

I apologize—I forgot to post some Juice for you last week.

Here’s the latest installment of creative ideas from all over the web:

  1. Prize-winning photographs.
  2. If you haven’t read these classics, you should.
  3. Beautiful tangles!
  4. 50 years ago they were arrested. What happened to the Freedom Riders between then and now.
  5. Animals acting like people.
  6. How have I lived for 65 years without knowing about the existence of these exotic birds?
  7. This very short article on productivity makes some very good points.
  8. I love this artist’s watercolor journal.
  9. Steve Jobs had some dramatic failures, but he credited them as necessary lessons which made his great successes possible in this speech he made six years before his death.
  10. How the climate of teaching has changed in light of school shootings. (I know this isn’t about creativity, but this essay is so well-written I have to share it with smart people.)
  11. Stop-motion animation.
  12. Need wall art? There’s a robot for that.

Creative Juice #89

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Creative Juice #89

Just in time for weekend reading:

Guest Post: 6 Ways to Increase Your Productivity as a Writer Without Burning Out by Jennifer Louden

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Thank you to Writers in the Storm and to Jennifer Louden for these tips on avoiding writer burn out.

lamca-kubrick-typewriter-jack-dull-boy-shiningJust about every day I read an article about a writer who’s written 988 books in the last three months under seventeen pen names while maintaining an active presence on every social media platform.

It’s enough to send me to bed with Netflix and a whole lot of dark chocolate.

But after a good binge, you and I still have to face the fact: it’s a crazy world we authors inhabit. And staying sane and productive without burning out is a skill we must cultivate, right up there with establishing a compelling voice and a thriving platform.

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Jennifer Louden, from her website

I’ve spent a big part of my career studying how writers can work with more ease and consistency, mostly because writing has always been a struggle for me (8 books with a million copies in print aren’t proof writing is easy for me, only that I’m stubborn). I hope the following suggestions for sane productivity will help you like they have me and the writers I coach.

Read the rest of the article here.

Video of the Week #141: When is Less than Your Best Enough?

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Video of the Week #141: When is Less than Your Best Enough?

Review of Growing Gills by Jessica Abel

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Review of Growing Gills by Jessica Abel

Jessica Abel is a prolific comic book author, a writer, a cartoonist, and the chair of the illustration program at the Pennsylvania Academy of Fine Arts. I became aware of her through her excellent blog. When I discovered she wrote a book about creative focus, I knew I wanted to learn from her.

Abel conducts workshops in creative focus, so her approach is very hands-on. The book is very hands-on, too. Each chapter has homework that applies the skills she talks about in the text, practical activities that will help you implement a different way of preparing, thinking, and working. I confess I haven’t done the exercises—yet—but I see how readers don’t fully benefit from just reading the book (you’ll just forget and work the way you always have); if you want to increase your focus (and productivity), you have to change the way you operate. The exercises enable you to implement successful creative strategies.

Growing Gills

Growing Gills is subtitled How to Find Creative Focus When You’re Drowning in Your Daily Life. It’s not a quick read. Transforming your creative life takes time.

The 19 chapters cover topics such as identifying passions and obstacles, idea debt, open loops, self-compassion, prioritizing, and breaking down a project into manageable tasks.

The book is divided into four parts.

In Part 1, So, What’s Stopping You, Abel identifies and defines what prevents creatives from finishing projects.

Part 2, Build your Custom-Powered Exoskeleton, covers goal-setting and creating a system to schedule your tasks and track your progress.

Part 3, Aligning your Today with your Tomorrow, helps you build a creative routine with enough flexibility that you don’t ignore your other life responsibilities.

Part 4, Falling Down & Getting Up, tells how to get going again when you get stuck.

Growing Gills is well-written by an established artist and writer, who understands the challenges of a being a creative, and has helped others overcome hurdles to productivity. It is well worth your time to read it, but do the associated activities to actually grow your own gills.

7 Things Creatives Should Do Before 9:00 AM

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7 Things Creatives Should Do Before 9:00 AM

Full disclosure: The suggestions listed below may only work for full-time writers and artists or the unemployed. If you have a day job, you might find this article frustrating. Or, you could try utilizing the information below on your days off, or implementing only the tips that fit your situation or schedule.

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  1. Get up. Yeah, I know, it sounds obvious; but if you’re not doing getting up before 9:00, maybe you should try it. Going to bed before midnight helps.
  2. Drink a glass of water. Your brain won’t work well if it’s under-hydrated.
  3. Reading biblePray, meditate, or read something inspiring. For me, it’s a chapter of scripture. I read, pick out a passage that speaks to me at that particular moment, and rephrase it in my own words in my journal. Then I pray and ask God what He has for me that day, and ask Him to guide me.
  4. Go to the gym. If you don’t belong to a gym, hop on your bike, work through an exercise video, jog, climb stairs, practice yoga, lift dumbbells, or take a walk. If you’re not doing something that requires total concentration, let your mind wander. Observe what’s going on around you. People-watch. Listen to birds sing. Free your brain to collect inspiration.
  5. Clear your mind with freewriting. Even three minutes of dumping your worries or just writing down whatever silly thoughts enter your consciousness will help your creativity emerge.writing
  6. Plan what you want to accomplish this day. Be reasonable. Writer Anne Lamott, in her book Bird by Bird, recommends giving yourself a small assignment, something that would fill a one-inch square picture frame, something that moves you forward without overwhelming you. Consider all the things you are obligated to do, and figure out a way to accomplish your daily chores while still giving you time to work on your art.
  7. Eat a healthy breakfast, preferably containing protein. I generally have a cup of coffee and some yogurt while I read my Bible (see #3). Hint—a donut or four cups of coffee do not constitute a healthy breakfast. Fuel yourself for productivity.

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Once you’ve done these seven things, you’ve already overcome some of the worst barriers to creativity: inertia, apathy, hunger, thirst, and lack of motivation. Now get out there and make something beautiful and amazing!

 

Review: Crank It Out! by C. S. Lakin  

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Review: Crank It Out! by C. S. Lakin  

I’m a long-time fan of C.S. Lakin’s website, Live, Write, Thrive, where she shares helpful articles about the craft of writing. Her book Writing the Heart of Your Story is one of the best writing books I’ve ever read. When I saw she’d written a book about productivity for writers, I knew I must buy it.

In Crank It Out! The Surefire Way to Become a Super-Productive Writer, Lakin identifies the Productivity ABCs: attitude, biology, and choices. How you handle these three factors determines how much you can accomplish. She says, “Time does not equal productivity. The trick is to get the most ‘productive’ bang from each minute you write or engage in any writing-related activity.”

Lakin cautions that if you don’t have the skills necessary for writing, you can’t be a productive writer, but you can apply the productivity tools to mastering the craft.

Crank it out

In regard to attitude, she recommends you examine your mindset. If you have excuses for your current lack of results, if you’re casting blame on the other people in your life, your attitude is causing your low productivity. She tells the stories of people who managed to write and publish books under less than desirable writing conditions. She quotes Yoda (from Star Wars): “There is no try. Do.

In her discussion of biology, Lakin asks you to take cues from your body and also to enhance your health. If you always crave a nap at 3:00, that’s not your best writing time. She explains how to track your energy levels to find when your most productive time is. And she provides evidence about how good sleep, diet, and exercise habits impact your output.

In talking about choices, Lakin encourages you to retrain your brain for optimum focus. She suggests some habits that will boost your enjoyment of life and also make you more productive, such as journaling and reading for pleasure. She also suggests streamlining your routines to help raise your productivity. I especially like her Chapter 10 on combatting distractions and Chapter 11 on self-sabotage.

I have over-simplified the scope of Crank It Out. It is full of helpful information to help you accomplish more in your writing and in life in general. It is well worth reading, and I know I will be rereading it every few years.