Six Ways To Get Your Creative Project Off The Ground

Andy Getch painting

“Woody and the Kids” by Andy Getch http://www.andygetch.com

Do you have a creative idea that really inspires you?

But then one thing or another happens and you just can’t seem to get started, find the time, or get it off the ground?

Maybe a couple of years go by and you're still talking about your idea with your friends?

Yep, I've been there. And if this sounds familiar to you rest assured that you are not alone! It's pretty typical to encounter this on a regular basis.

I have learned that it can be really helpful to make a COMMITMENT to my project. Otherwise, another two years go by and I am still thinking and talking about it… but not actually doing it.

When we make a commitment to our creative project we are saying that we believe in it and therefore ourselves. 

Making a commitment can send out a signal to the universe that you are serious and you might find yourself receiving all kinds of support (and some challenges, too, but that will be for another blog post on another day.)

So how can we consciously commit to our creative project?

I've identified six ways that have helped me to commit and follow through on my ideas and projects. This list is by no means exhaustible and I am always learning new ways to set a project in motion. I would love to hear your thoughts on these and any others that you have discovered so please be sure to chime in on the comments!

  1. Get comfortable with fear
  2. Commit out loud
  3. Prioritize
  4. Create an accountability and support system
  5. Set deadlines
  6. Reward yourself
  1. Get comfortable with fear

It can be scary to begin a new project! While it remains in the “ideas phase” it feels much safer. We can enjoy the idea of the project without diving into the dark, scary, and unknown places that our creative project may demand of us.

quote fear signpostBut did you know that the more that we CARE about a project or idea the more fear we might feel around it?

In other words, fear can be a signpost that we are doing important, meaningful work.

This means that….(drumroll please) fear can be a good thing!

If we wait for the fear to go away, or only do the things that don’t scare us, we can miss out on some of the most rewarding and rich work available to us.

Sometimes I will talk to my fear: “Oh, hey there, Fear!” (we're on a first name basis.) “What gifts do you have for me today? Oh, self-doubt? The need to distract myself? What's that you say? I want to take a nap right now?”

Yes, fear can come in many forms. So it’s good to recognize fear for what it is…and to learn to get comfortable with it. The only way to do this is to just dive in and gradually get used to fear as our constant companion. Who knows, it may even become a friend!

  1. Commit out loud

The key word here is “commit.” I find I have to use this word – otherwise my project is simply an idea and never really manifests.

We can say it to ourselves, speaking the word out loud in our minds, that we commit to our project.

But it can be even more effective if we put it in writing!

Some people make a commitment statement. It can look something like, “I, John Doe, commit to writing my novel.”

We can also break it down into incremental steps as needed, for example: “I, John Doe, commit to spending the next ten weeks writing the first draft of my novel.”

quote creativity commitment

Telling designated friends that you're committed to your new project can help it feel more real and believable (to you – the one that matters!) The more we say something out loud, the more powerful it becomes.

  1. Prioritize

Several years ago I was having lunch with a friend. I was telling her about my dream of leaving my job and backpacking through Europe. Needless to say I had many good reasons why I couldn't make that dream happen.

My friend paused from chewing her sandwich and held up a hand to stop me in the middle of my rant. Then she said some words that have stuck with me all my life.

She said, “None of this other stuff matters. You're only going to do it if you make it a priority.”

And she was right. Until we make something a priority, it doesn't happen.

This doesn't mean that we should beat ourselves up if we can't make a particular idea, project, or dream a priority right at that particular moment in our lives.

But it can be helpful to recognize that, in order to get a dream or idea off the ground, we need to shift it to the top of the “to-do” list.

Often when we say that we don’t have time to do something…what we are really saying is that it’s simply not a priority.

I catch myself doing this all the time. And it can be really liberating to recognize what's really happening, to shift my thinking, and to give myself a new – and more empowering – perspective.

We don't have control over time – but we do have control over our priorities.

  1. Create an accountability and support system

Can you find a person or group who can hold you accountable and provide support for you while you embark on your creative project? This would be someone you can check-in with, who can boost you up when you feel discouraged, or steer you in the right direction if you are veering too far off course.

quote believing mirror

It can be an individual or a group. It can include friends you already know or people you meet through a shared interest. This support can happen in person, over the phone, online, or even just by knowing they are there.

It's important to find the right people to do this.

I'm a creativity coach and one of the most important things that coaches do, I feel, is to be believing mirrors. We believe in people and remind them of their purpose and what they are capable of accomplishing.

Find your believing mirrors, the people who see your light and shine it back to you when you can't see it.

  1. Deadlines

You've had six weeks to write your essay…and now it's due in a few hours and you are cramming to finish it.

Does this sound familiar? Was this you when you were in school? That was definitely me.

Most of us need deadlines in order to get something done. And it can be really helpful and important to set deadlines for our creative projects.

If possible, we try to set deadlines that are realistic given the other things that we have going on in our lives. It's easy to set lofty goals and then give up when we don't attain them immediately.

That being said, we often need to revise our deadlines as we go. The trick is to try to stick to them as much as possible to keep the project moving along…but to not give up in despair if the deadline isn't met.

Every Monday I check-in with my current project and re-assess the deadlines for it as needed. This way I always know what I need to focus on that week. I don't spend time (or try not to) beating myself up if I don't meet a deadline. That is counter-productive. But I do try to learn from a deadline that didn't work so that I can set a more realistic deadline for the week ahead.

Creative projects are ever-changing and always-evolving. It can feel like we're trying to impose structure on a wisp of fairy dust. We need to be able to flow and change with our deadlines and projects while still allowing them to breathe and sparkle.

  1. Rewards

This is one thing that I often forget to do…

Yet this simple technique can be surprisingly effective!

“Lauren,” I tell myself, “if you finish writing this song you get to eat your favorite chocolate. The good organic dark chocolate kind with the caramel bits and sea salt and…”

Well, you get the idea.

Whatever is it that motivates you…set up a rewards system for yourself. After all, you deserve it!

SUMMARY

There are many ways we can support ourselves in committing to our creative projects. What works for us now can also change over time or per project.

Eventually we find a system that gets us started, keeps us moving forward, and supports us as we move through the sometimes-scary and unknown world of the creative. And then we celebrate as we reach our milestones.

fireworks celebrationDon't forget to celebrate!

What helps you feel more committed to your project? What challenges have you faced? Please feel free to share your comments and/or e-mail me at Creativity@LaurenL.com.

Best of luck with your creative project!

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