creativity and organization: friends or foes

Structure gives free reign to your imaginative talents.

  • Writer’s block–is your to-do list the #1 invader that sabotages your inventiveness?
  • Do you get so lost in invention that you miss deadlines, appointments, and dates with your significant other?
Food 1613I’d love to spend all my time mixing words creatively into stories, poems, and delicious art that people will devour. Unfortunately, that’s not all I have to cook up during the hours, days and weeks of my life. I have to add a cup of marketing, an ounce of finances, 2 cups of relationships, and the spice of grandmothering into my mixing bowl. Sometimes I don’t get the balance of flavors just right, and at other times the result is delectable.
Is there a recipe for success that works for creative personalities?
Much as we inventive types resist habitual processes, organization actually frees us to go farther and faster down the rabbit trails of our imagination.
It’s easy for the tyranny of the urgent to take over each day. Goal-setting, planning, and scheduling increase efficiency, leaving more time and mental ability to create. So quit resisting structure and dive in. The following questions may help.
  1. What is your creative goal?
    For me, it’s getting the next book in my Most Unlikely People series written by the end of the year. I’m in the fourth month of 2015, and I’m running a little behind schedule. In order to get back on track, I took a week off to assess my needs, responsibilities, and wants. How many chapters will I need to produce in a year, a month, a week? Is this a reasonable goal based on my life? Do I need to adjust my goals or my life?
  2. What are your other working goals?
    I am marketing my first book, Less Than a Widow. I’ve found that takes a whole different personality than the creative writing does, and it’s hard to quickly shift back and forth. I’ve been pretty successful in finding what works for me, but it’s easy to drown yourself in marketing without producing consistent sales, and I was spending more time on marketing than in doing what I love–writing. I decided to plan my marketing for the rest of the year to include: platform building (consistent blog posts, social media involvement, speaking engagements, local presence, and spreading the word to other communities). This involved a heavy dose of realistic evaluation of time, skills, and results. I came up with a yearly, monthly, weekly plan that I entered into a marketing calendar.
  3. Plot out your plan and goals on a calendar.
    I made a second calendar–named it–and translated steps 1 and 2 above into linear mode. I then overlaid it with my personal calendar and made adjustments to avoid conflicts. I also scheduled periodic breaks–built-in time for fun and relaxation. I believe that a healthy life includes margins, so I give myself one day a week without work.
  4. Know yourself and plan accordingly.
    I am not Superwoman and don’t aspire to be. God, family, friends, exercise, and other interests are prominent parts of my life–and I don’t want to give them short shrift. So, if I want to add something, no matter how interesting or tempting, I have to take something else away.

Here is probably the most important thing that makes organization work for me:

My plan is a balanced platform, but I am not a slave to it.
It gives me a structure from which to launch, but it does not rule my life. 

Do you know your goals?
Have you taken the time to chart them out and bring them from the dream world to reality?
Gather the ingredients, blend them together in the mixing bowl of your life, and amaze the world with your creative flavors.
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