Monday, 26 May 2014

Tips for Managing Creativity

Like most aspiring writers with a full-time job, I often struggle to find time to dedicate to my writing. In the past I've managed to finish projects through my sheer passion for the idea, but sometimes passion, or inspiration, isn't enough. Sometimes I need to write even when I don't feel like it. This year I started a writing routine based on my background as a CG artist and production manager that has worked well for me and I wanted to share my routine, in case you find it useful too.

I started my career in film and TV as a CG artist and found the biggest learning curve of working in the "real world" was how to manage my creativity. I was accustomed to working on my own projects in my own time – whenever I felt like it, but working as a professional artist meant I had to meet deadlines but not sacrifice quality. My work was determined by the brief and the production schedule.

I later moved into production roles where I coordinated creative teams. I could relate to the artistic process and the reality that creativity comes in waves. Yet, there still had to be structure and routine for our department to achieve our goals and deadlines. It was also important to encourage the artists and their endeavours.

In the past, I wrote only when inspiration struck, but with my new manuscript, I found myself needing more structure. I decided to become my own production manager: setting daily writing tasks and deadlines. One task is to dedicate time to brainstorm one scene at lunchtime, before sitting down to write 1000 words immediately after work. Sometimes it takes 15 minutes, sometimes a full hour, but I’m not to leave the computer until 1000 words are written. My production manager won’t allow it! ;)

As a production manager of my own time, it can be tempting to cave in at 600 words or less, but it’s important I stick to this writing routine. And I've found the more I practice the routine, the easier it is to write in the time allocated; I'll automatically start daydreaming at lunchtime about my WIP and my fingers start itching to hit the keyboard as soon as I finish work. This routine fuels my creativity, as opposed to repressing it. 

Whilst my 1000 words will vary in quality day-to-day, the important thing is to keep at my routine. After all, a first draft is just about filling the blank pages. My favourite part of the writing process is revising and redrafting – this is where I can really hone my writing and the story – and I can’t redraft a blank page!

Whilst I’m not a published author yet, I consider writing to be my second job. After all, I’m hoping to have a writing career, so it’s important I treat it with the same commitment as I do for my day job.

I've found being my own production manager a really useful tool to manage and maximise creativity. What about you? Do you have any tips to share? Please let me know in the comments.

1 comment:

  1. I love this tip! I've been learning about the management side of the creative process myself lately, and here are some bits of advice that struck a chord with me:

    -Don't worry about perfection (an elusive idea anyhow), just doing your craft consistently will result in better work over time.
    -Inspiration doesn't have to be something that comes at scarcely at random, we can actually invite creativity in many ways including just being there on the job to receive it.
    -Be kind to yourself and recognize even your small achievements. Be aware that you ARE making progress. Beating ourselves up only kills our creativity and gets in the way of progress.

    Thank you for the thoughtful post and great advice!