Wednesday, April 2, 2008

Counting Coup for Creative People

Give Yourself Some Roses for Your Accomplishments

Even if you only give yourself a lovely picture of roses. A recent blog entry on J. A. Konrath's blog A Newbie's Guide to Publishing prompted this post. Although this entry is about money, it is also about a writer's struggles with following the passion of writing. And that there is a piece of success that writers have no control over: luck.

This is true for all creative people. It can be frustrating. It can be discouraging and depressing. It can sap away creative energy.

So here's a tip that helps: Give yourself kudos. Regular pats on the back. Daily. Even hourly if you're feeling a slump. Especially if you, like most creative people, sometimes fall into the trap of beating up on yourself ala: "I should have written/painted/produced more today. I'll never be as good an artist/writer/musician as insert-famous-name-of-person-you-admire-here. Etc." We all know the drill.

This is especially helpful when you can't think of anything good about your creative process. Then stop the thoughts and replace them with one thing, no matter how tiny, minute, insignificant, that you've done today to further your creativity. Thought about a new scene? Yes! Picked up a single item and sorted it? You go! Looked out the window and noticed the weather? Congratulations!

Okay, it seems silly, but it works.

What do you have as an accomplishment for today? What's a little one that you usually take for granted?


Anonymous said...

Thanks for the reminder. I needed that. Of course, I'm still living off yesterday's glory. I wrote ten pages and figured out some serious plotting issues, as well as solidifying my protagonists previously shaky motivations. Today, though? I, uh, blogged. Does that count? And I sort of thought about my book. Even had a tiny epiphany. But I agree that we have to celebrate our accomplishments more often, because others rarely celebrate them for us.

The Muse said...

Today I'm doing laundry. If I can actually finish before going bonkers, that will be a major accomplishment.

I don't know about anyone else, but having clean clothes is something that is taken for granted here, a lot. The clothes are thrown in the chute, and as if by magic, they reappear fresh, clean, and folded. The little one thinks that is amazing--just wait until I make her do her own laundry!

On the writing front, I'm working on an article in the back of my head. I'm a spectacular multi-tasker. I can do laundry, blog, and think about writing all at once!

Jen said...

Great reminder, Conda, and something I'm very bad at doing, but last night I had a pretty major plot breakthrough on my most recent project and even though I didn't get much actual production done, the shape of the rest of the story is starting to gel. Yay, me! Thanks for the tips and giggles -- noticed the weather, hey I did that too. ::pats self on back:: ;)

Conda Douglas said...

Yes, booklady, if we don't do congratulate ourselves, then often no one will do it for us.

Also, I've notice when we do our own congratulations--people notice somehow (must be an energy shift)and join in.

And every little thing counts! Good for you for your epiphany, your blogging and all your hard work the day before!

Conda Douglas said...

You go, Muse--I admire your multi-tasking--I'm rather hopeless at it myself--nothing gets done and sometimes I leave the oven on for--oh, hours and hours.

Conda Douglas said...

Yes, Jen, there's always the weather. I love your new avatar, by the way!

The Muse said...

The oven thing I've done one too many times. As a matter of fact, and I hate to admit it, I've left the darn thing all night. I go into the kitchen in the morning and wonder, "Why is it so hot in here"? Oh, the oven is on. Smooth move muse...I guess I cannot multi-task on the oven front.

Swubird said...


Writing is such a lonely process. You sit at the computer before anyone else gets up in the morning, or after they've gone to bed at night, and rack your brain to come up with a new scene, description, or a bit of dialog. When you succeed, there's no feeling like it. But when you fail, it's pure agony.

So how do I find a little reward when I'm so down? Well, when I'm up against the wall, and need to clear my mind, I'll completely switch to another endeavor. I'll go for a long walk and take some pictures. Or, I'll stroll around the mall watching all of the people. Maybe I'll rent a movie. And if I'm really stumped, I'll fix something around the house: a leaky faucet, the thermostat, wash the car, etc. Anything that distracts me from what I was doing. Plus, successfully fixing something has the advantage of being rewarding, so I can give myself legitimate kudos.

Very interesting post.

Happy trails.

Conda Douglas said...

Yes, Muse, there's something about the stove--maybe because we have to turn it on before starting to bake?

Conda Douglas said...

Swubird--do you find when you "take a break" whatever it might be, you come back to the writing renewed?

And your comment is so true. It really is the agony and the ecstasy when writing (sometimes it feels like a lot of the former...).

Thanks for visiting!

Swubird said...


Yes, most of the time I do feel refreshed, and renewed. I'm ready to tackle the problem from a brand new angle. But sometimes it takes me several days to work out a solution to a writing problem. The most difficult part for me is to throw out the lines that I love. Sometimes, a new lead is necessary, but I love the old lead so much. Then when I finally bite the bullet and change it, or throw out the old sentences, I say to myself - Why didn't I do that sooner!

Have a nice day.

Conda Douglas said...

Swubird--too, too true! My words are my babies--and a rule of thumb is to throw out the first page of any writing (takes a writer that long to get into the writing). I hate doing that--but am glad when I do.