Monday, September 29, 2008

How to Pick it.

Not what you're thinking to pick. Get your mind out of there!

But rather, how to determine where to put your focus. As creative folks, we often struggle with a plethora, even an overwhelming excess, of ideas. Of projects. Instead of having one road to follow, or two or three, we have myriad little paths, all enticing. Oooh, look at the pretty flowers on this path, but wait, this one has a stream running by, but over here--

Life is finite, pick one. So you can finish one. I know of some many talented, capable creative people who never finish because they never pick one. They walk down just enough of one path to find others.

How to pick? If you're struggling, here are some tips to get past standing at a thousand forks in the road.

1. What speaks to your heart and spirit and mind? Yes, all the paths are attractive, but which one do you think/feel you could walk down until you reach the end?
2. Every creative process is a journey. What journey truly is the one you want to take? No matter what happens on the road, further ahead?
3. Time is short and getting shorter every minute. Where would you like to be six months from now? A year from now? Five years? What would feel best to be able to say: "I accomplished this"?

And yes, of course, any path can be changed. Still, when you pick, commit to what you've picked!

Next post, what to do once you've picked your path and the going gets rocky.

Do you ever have difficulties picking the next project? Or is the path always clearly marked? If it is hard to choose, what do you do to pick?


Cornish Dreamer said...

An interesting post. I know exactly what you mean; right now I've got so many ideas to choose from that, if I tried to follow them all, I'd be over-stretching myself by miles; if I tried, I'd never finish anything!

Choosing the path that speaks most to your heart, spirit & mind is probably one of the most important things to consider because that'll probably keep you going if things get difficult down the path. If you don't believe in something as much, you're probably not as likely to finish it.

Can't wait for the next post.

Jim Murdoch said...

I suppose in one sense I'm lucky in that I never find myself sitting around with a dozen ideas and no time. As soon as I get an idea I go for it and, poems aside (I have no control over when they come), I just get on with it.

Swubird said...


A great topic. Staying focused on the main point.

I review every paragraph I write and ask myself if it leads to the objective of the story. It's difficult, but if it's one of those paragraphs that tend to stray off in another direction, I cut it. Sometimes it's like cutting off my own arm, but if it irrelevant, it doesn't belong.

Vey good post.

Happy trails.

Conda Douglas said...


So true--especially true for me when choosing the next novel to write as there is so much time and effort involved in a novel! The short stories I write don't require so much "asking of the heart" as they, of course, are much shorter!

Of course, I can distract myself with writing short stories...

What about you? Does the time and energy effort factor into your commitment to a project?

Conda Douglas said...

That's a real strength as well, Jim. You're not wasting energy picking, you're getting on with it.It sounds like you use the first energy of something new to carry you into commitment--and there you go.

Conda Douglas said...

I hope you save all those amputated limbs, Swu! In my work, they're often the limb or even trunk or head of another project...of course that may be part of my problem...

Swubird said...


You are so right. Whenever I cut a sentence, or a paragraph I keep it in a "Scraps" file for that project. Like you say, I frequently rummage through the scraps and find something golden. It's sort of like going to a garage sale. It's mostly junk, but sometimes you get lucky.

Happy trails.

Cornish Dreamer said...

*What about you? Does the time and energy effort factor into your commitment to a project?*

With the magazine stuff I'm doing at the moment, there's not a great deal of effort except going out when the weather is good and getting the shots needed. I guess that's the equivalent of your short stories. But I'm also looking into doing a book, which is a big project. It'll involve many hours of working in all sorts of conditions on my chosen subject, as well as all the research. You have to love a subject and believe in it to be able to drag yourself out and justify all of that effort. So, yes. It definitely factors into the level of commitment.
That's probably why choosing the right project first is important.

Dave King said...

But paths change. What looks promising is often disappointing... still I know what you are saying. It needs saying, if only to balance it against the other half of the picture.

Conda Douglas said...

Yes, I suspect you're right, Rebecca--it's much easier to choose between short paths--writing a short story takes me 1-3 days. Writing a novel or book as you mentioned (which sounds interesting, and if it has your glorious photos...yum) takes, well, a lot longer for most of us.

The longer paths do require a lot more passion and commitment.

Conda Douglas said...

Dave, yes, you're right, sometimes you have to go a ways down the path only to find it to be the wrong path for one reason or another. There's no way to be certain that any path is the correct one.

Frustrating, sometimes.

The Muse said...

This is difficult. I tend to lose focus and jump topic. When I'm writing I try so hard to stick to my guns and stay on topic, but I fail most times. I look to the "feel good" theory at that point. Then, I read it out loud. Believe it, or not, it really helps me to read something aloud.

I must be an auditory person.

Most times I go back and edit afterward. I think to myself, it felt good when I wrote it, but it sounds like it sucks.

Have a great weekend!

Conda Douglas said...

Of course, Muse, I sometimes feel awful when I write something, then go back and read it later and it's okay.

Creative people are sooo neurotic.