Last week, we looked into getting the concept of your story or art down on paper. This week, we tackle the ‘sit-down-and-finish’ aspect of the process.
STAGE TWO: DISCIPLINE
You want to know the truth about my discipline? I get work done, but it’s not in the way teachers will be proud of. TL; DR - I suck.
But while I’m not going to pull out that 99% perspiration phrase, but in all honesty, no amount of inspiration will save you if you take no action. That being said, I’ve discovered a more nuanced way of getting into things other than just, “Shut up, suck it up, and just work hard without any complaints.”
On that front, I have found that discipline can be a huge challenge due to these four aspects. But here’s how I cope:
How do you work?
It’s simple enough. Yet, so many of us don’t really know our optimum working levels, or give statements like - “I’m always last-minute, I need the rush to finish everything well.” or “I’ll do things when I feel like it. My readers need to know that good things take time.”
Knowing how we work as creators, administrators, managers, the lot, can help with scheduling and the discipline to tackle your projects as they come.
Here are some questions you can ask yourself to determine your optimal work routine:
Personal Assessment - How you create when you get to create.
Circumstantial Assessment - What do you have to work with.
From there, you can find and hopefully plug the gaps between your current situation and your most comfortable work environment. (Note: Realistically, you won’t have your ideal work environment all the time - but this can help alleviate matters, especially when you know where the biggest gaps are.)
Overwhelm and Distraction
I’m the kind of person who cannot relax until everything and everything is well and truly done. Also, Murphy’s Law is a good friend - imagine how many times you’ve found yourself in a situation where you face long periods of silence from your stakeholders, only to have all of them descend upon you with urgent matters on your busiest day.
I recognize that this is a problem, but as I took steps to curb this issue, I’ve learnt that overcoming overwhelm can lead to distraction. Instead, here are some steps I took / am taking now to help with my discipline:
Most importantly, please give yourself permission to rest. We are all humans, so there should not be this pressure to always appear as if you’re always working and never resting.
Also, a little goes a long way. When I’m too tired but feel like working on a project, I find myself gravitating to tasks which are time-consuming, but not difficult (e.g. panelling and inking, in the case of comic artists). That way, work still gets done, but you’re not over-exerting yourself.
For me, the solution was simple - turn off your WiFi, or go analog. I’m a huge RPG gamer and love my Netflix and Geek & Sundry, so I’d know that internet is going to be my best friend and my worst enemy, depending on the time of the day.
That being said, another way I do like to keep focussed is to allocate time for the tasks you want completed. A popular way is the Pomodoro Method -
I tend to pull a double Pomodoro and turn it into a Power Hour, with a 25-min session, 10-min break, and another 25-min session to finish it off.
During these sessions, set some rules for yourself. Mine are usually - No WiFi, no music or anything from the earphones, and no answering messages (unless they’re urgent).
And when you have your focus and rules in place - stick to them. The urgency and the time constraint can help you achieve more than if you were to just scold yourself into squeezing it into your schedule.
Schedule time - regardless of how little you can.
Most of us have day jobs, so dedicating huge amounts of time to your creative work may not be on the table. However, here are some pointers to what some of us do:
Bonus Point: When you’re working with others
BONUS - After going through some tips on how to get yourself disciplined and productive, here are also some bonus points for times when you have to play the role of team mate to others:
So there you have it! Some of my tips on maintaining discipline with your creative work. Here are (some of my favourite) other publications or blog posts that can help you with your motivation:
Thank you for your support and I hope you’ve managed to benefit from some of the information presented above. Stay tuned for the next stage of creation - we go into the Peaks and Troughs of Creation!
My sanctuary of creative organisation, arts management, and planners.