"Deadlines just aren't real to me until I'm staring one in the face." - Rick Riordan
All Things Take Time
Imagine trying to ring water out of a dry cloth. It would help if you were full before you can produce anything, and that takes advanced preparation, study, and resources.
If you burn yourself out on the first deadline, you might set yourself up to miss subsequent deadlines.
For example, you might make a goal to exercise for one hour every day. But if you find yourself only exercising once per week, then you would do better to scale back to 15 minutes a day to avoid burning out and missing your goal.
When things get stressful, it is common to cut corners. As a result, you may sacrifice quality, quantity, or worse, you may plagiarise someone else's work.
Everyone knows that stress is bad for your health. Your body tells you that it is unhealthy by the way you feel during the process.
Relying on deadlines for inspiration and productivity is unsustainable for the reasons listed above, and I can't imagine that you would want to make it a habit. So why not try to break away from it and create positive habits? Practices without as many negative impacts on you and the project?
If you are in a creative rut:
You Don't Need Deadlines to Boost Your Productivity:
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Perfectionism is the enemy of productivity.
Quantity is more important than quality, especially at the beginning of a new goal. Nevertheless, it is uncomfortable to implement.
It means posting online knowing full well that I am not happy with how it turned out.
It means writing page after page, knowing there are errors and inconsistencies in the pages before.
It means taking videos without the best equipment, talking even though I have trouble getting the words out, and showing my face when I have a bad hair day.
It’s not pretty, but it is important.
Why is quantity more important? One of the biggest and most obvious reasons in my opinion is that algorithms favor quantity and consistency over quality. . .until it spills over into spam.
It’s not just algorithms, people favor it too. If the greatest artist in the world disappears for a few weeks you will forget they existed, but if a new photo or video pops up every day on your feed, you will be constantly reminded how great they are.
The second reason is not as obvious. Improvement does not come from creating one perfect thing. It comes from the process of creating over and over again, receiving feedback, and improving over time.
“We are what we repeatedly do. Excellence, then, is not an act, but a habit.” -Will Durant
Here are 5 things more important than quality:
These 5 things will appear when you commit to create something every day, and they will show their value through steadily ripening quality.
The difference between imitation and creation is doing things with a purpose.
This is also one of my steps in How To Be Original.
My mother introduced me to poetry in middle school when she gave me access to her library. There I discovered a book called An Introduction to Poetry by X.J. Kennedy. It is a much friendlier introduction than Sound and Sense by Thomas R. Arp and Greg Johnson, which was the standard textbook at my High School.
“A frequent objection to a book such as is this is that poetry ought not to be studied at all. In this view, a poem is either a series of gorgeous noises to be funneled through one ear and out the other without being allowed to trouble the mind or an experience so holy that to analyze it in a classroom is as cruel and mechanical as dissecting a hummingbird.”
X.J. Kennedy guessed that I would be annoyed to study poetry rather than enjoy it for what it was. My writing reflected this sentiment because it was often peppered with purposeless poetic devices. It sounded like poetry, it looked like poetry, and it had very little meaning other than to feel like poetry. This is imitation.
At first, it is enough to learn about the devices, such as figurative speech, imagery, allusion, sound, and pattern. To learn to spot them is next. Then “We have to be willing to offer it responses besides logical understanding.” Or learn to experience poetry logically and emotionally. Only then can it be truly evaluated for its purpose.
When you learn to study poetry this way you are also learning to study all sorts of texts, picture books, novels, songs, the strategies are all similar. And when you understand why, your creation process will be richer for it.
“If you had a big fish how could you feed your family for as long a time possible?”
As the story goes, a rich man is searching for a companion for his son. He tells prospective suitors that they may wed his son if they answer the question correctly.
The wisest suitor tells the rich man that she would share the fish with her neighbors, and they would reciprocate the gift.
This strategy suggests that you should receive more than you give, because you are one person giving to many.
“You will get all you want in life if you help enough other people get what they want.” - Zig Zigler
The internet makes a mockery of giving. You see “like-for-like” or “follow-for-follow” trending, leaving a bad taste.
For every 100 likes you give, you may receive 1 in return. That is because likes and follows are shallow gifts.
An employer once told me, “I won’t give you a pat on the back for doing your job.” Likewise, I didn’t thank him for my paycheck.
However helpful likes and follows may be to social algorithms, they require little more than basic participation. If you want to see true reciprocation, then you must give deeply.
Train Yourself To Think About Others
The best givers think regularly about how they can add value to someone else.
Make giving a habit by thinking about 1 way to add value in every interaction you find yourself in.
“Wherever you are, be all there.” - Jim Elliott
Don’t Give Everything
Giving can have the opposite effect, leaving you with nothing for yourself.
Limit your giving to things that you are skilled at, don’t waste your energy, or take all your time.
You can limit yourself to small favors that take 5 to 10 minutes.
Set Aside A Day For Giving
Have you heard people say that they record all their TikToks on shampoo day? This is a similar strategy. Give on a day that you have energy stored up. Make it consistent and you will add regularity to your advantage.
Show people how they can give to you. I have a really hard time with this because it feels like taking, but in reality, you want to attract givers to you. Givers appreciate the opportunity to give, just don't take too much of their time or energy. Keep it short and simple, like 5 to 10 minutes.
Don't Let Anyone Take Advantage Of You
There are people out there who will literally cheat you or simply take and take with no thought of anyone but themselves. Oddly the most successful givers I have known were also the feistiest when it came to taking down con artists and manipulators.
I have met people who are incredibly talented “Givers.” They make friends everywhere they go and as a result, they are up to their necks in contacts and opportunities. They give without expectation of return, but they know that when you give friendship you receive it.
Friendship has a high rate of return.
1. Give Deeply
2. Train Yourself To Think About Others
3. Don't Give Everything
4. Set Aside A Day For Giving
5. Attract Givers
6. Don't Let Anyone Take Advantage Of You
7. Give Friendship
This blog post features a story from the book, Kindness Tales Written by Margaret Read McDonald
This week I attended a Lunch Hour with Jess Keating on Instagram. She is an author, artist, and creative coach. I think her most recent book to date is the second book in a series of graphic novels called BunBun and BonBon.
Jess is very talented and makes “inspiring” look easy. During her Lunch Hour, she said that many things can be either bad or good, you just don’t know how things will end up. “Shift your attitude” toward something positive, and that little change in thought could lead to a bigger change in action.
When Jess spoke, I recalled a Chinese folktale that I heard first from, I think it was, Sid Lieberman. As it happens, Jess was going there all along. I couldn’t repeat the story the way she told it, but as I remember, it goes something like this:
A farmer in a Chinese province had a single horse to help with his work. When the horse ran away, the neighbors gathered and said, “What misfortune! Now you will have to plow your fields by hand.” But the farmer’s wise father remarked, “How do youknow it is not fortune?” The following day the farmer found the horse in the company of 7 wild horses, and a stallion among them. The neighbors gathered to marvel, “What fortune! Now you can sell them as workhorses and you’ll be rich.” But the father only replied, “How do you know it is not misfortune?” The farmer proceeded to break in his horses, but when he mounted the stallion it threw him. The farmer’s leg shattered. The neighbors gathered to express their grief, “What misfortune! Now you have no way to work at all.” The father only said, “How do you know it is not fortune?” When soldiers arrived at the province they gathered all the young men who could fight but left the man whose leg was shattered. The neighbors gathered to tell him how fortunate he was to stay home from war. Again the father shook his head and said, “How do you know?”
Hi, my name is Cory Shaw. I am an author and illustrator of books and book covers for children.
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