It catches you every time. I was sitting there at my desk ready to kill this next project by the end of the day. My mind was prepped and my heart was ready, but there was this cloud of anxiety billowing around my head.
It swept into the crevices of my mind and seeped. “Am I going to get the outcome I want?” “Wait, am I even that good at this?” “Who do you think you are?” “Even if I do get the results I want, what will be my next step and can I handle it?” And on and on and on.
Even when you have all the intention to create something magnificent, you end up on Netflix or Facebook going down the endless road known as the Newsfeed.
You might be familiar with this. If you’re not, then you’re one lucky duck. But for the rest of us, if you don’t keep these kinds of thoughts in check, your creative ability will become paralyzed.
Steven Pressfield calls this phenomenon “The War of Art.” It springs up especially for anyone with creative pursuits, from artists to entrepreneurs. It’s common, but something I know you don’t want to get in the way of your success. Let me tell you how I deal with it.
Fight the Fear, Distraction, and Procrastination
I have a weapon to fight the fear, distraction, and procrastination. It’s really a rather simple method that doles out an epic punch. Quite frankly, it’s something you want to keep in your arsenal of creative rituals to keep you in the flow (I definitely have a lot of tools in my toolbox!).
The Cruxes in Your Process
Before we get into this weapon against fear, let’s talk about the crux points in your process. They are critical points in your process that need to be dealt with in order for you to reach the end of the creative process.
Cruxes are things that deadlock you into unproductivity and procrastination. They show up as negative thoughts, checking your email one more time, and even difficulty in assembling your creative material (like a canvas and paint, a computer, even just getting a spot to do your work). It’s when you hit these cruxes that you find yourself watching TV or working on something that isn’t critical.
You might have one, two, or TEN cruxes. Either way, you have to start identifying and dealing with each one, no matter how long it takes. That is, if you really want a smooth creative process and you want to be a master at your craft.
For me, my biggest crux is right before I need to take action to begin the creative process. As soon as I start, it’s peachy keen. But starting is the hardest part for me. Here’s my way to calm the beast and get to work.
Killing the Cruxes in Your Creative Process
1. I’m a big fan of monitoring what you do now before you take an action to change. So, take notice of how you spend your time. Spend a few days keeping track of how you behave during your day and while you work. Keep these notes in a notebook. When in the process do you falter? What’s the point right before you stop working and find yourself on Facebook? What thoughts are keeping you from moving forward?
2. Identify the critical moments where you push important work away to do something else. Do you open your laptop, but don’t even get to the part of opening up a blank document. Do you get to that part, but find yourself looking for inspiration elsewhere and get lost?
3. Now, it’s time for the battle plan. Try to work on only one habit at a time. Doing them all at once can be overwhelming and leave you with no progress on anything. Create a series of rituals right before you begin work. Try to aim to replace it near the moment you’d usually get distracted. Do this series every time to make the pattern automatic. It must have at least 2 rituals.
Here’s an example. When I want to write, I open my laptop and turn it on. I open my browser and go directly to Google Drive – no checking email for me! I open nothing else. I open my writing document. Then, I set a kettle of water on the stove. I get my mind prepped to write by saying things like, “DO IT AND LET IT GO” to help me clear my mind of my worries. I come to the computer with a cup of tea and begin writing. I usually set a time for 30-60 minutes and just write. Commit to writing for that period of time and not stopping. And when the buzzer goes off, I move on to my next to-do item.
This patterned system keeps me productive. I say “do it and let it go.” to tap into my genius and be at peace with the results and know I can only affect the actual work that gets done. It took me time to find the right patterns, but once you do, you win the war of art.
What will you come up with?
There’s a difference between thinking you’re something and actually doing that something.
You gotta walk the talk. Even if it’s hard.
The trick is to make it a habit.
So, are you going to master your craft?
Or be an amateur for another year?