Apr 5, 2007

Motivating me/Breaking out of the creative obligation cycle

Some mornings I really don't want to start creating. It can be pretty grumpy-making to know that I'm behind on a couple of things that might not get appreciated no matter what I do, just because I'm a few days late (thank you, Swap-bot); and it's also grumpy-making to wake up to the knowledge that I have a bunch of obligations to fulfill before I can start doing something I really ought to be doing, that I only just decided/found out I should be doing.

Not that I'm just whinging. ;) There are solutions to this sort of thing: First, I should do less frivolous swapping as a habit, and next, I should clear my space of current obligations so I can do what I Need to do sooner.

The problem then becomes obviously circular, 'cause it's more difficult to create when I'm grumpy, and I can't move on if I can't create well and be satisfied with the results. Creating stuff for people isn't like being in school, or at a job you hate, where you can -- or at least I can -- just do what you have to do without your heart being in it, and still do quite well by the standards they're using. My heart has to be in what I create, or it's that much more difficult to actually finish and send my things out into the world.

So I propose an Obligation Diet, a.k.a. a UFO Diet! It's like that yarn diet that's so popular with bloggers, including me, except that this one is about myself and my achievements -- it's about destashing my obligations and my unfinished projects and my creative albatrosses, to steal someone else's word for it. ;) The parameters of the Obligation Diet, I hereby set forth thusly:

For a period of however long it takes:

1. I will work only on old projects and obligations, a.k.a. UFOs, or Unfinished Objects (or Objectives ;));
2. The exception to #1 being if I need to create something on a deadline based on a previous promise, whether that be to myself or to someone else (e.g., if a friend's birthday is coming up, I have a previous unspoken promise to give said person a gift, and I may choose to create one rather than purchase one, since I am Poor ;)).
3. I will work on at least one UFO per day, for one hour per day.
4. When I don't feel like creating for someone else, I will work on a project, or do a non-UFO-related cheerful thing, for me, because slogging through a creative project without my heart in it will do no one good. (See the List of Ideas for Cheering Myself.) This does not count toward the required daily hour of UFO progress.
5. Also, regardless of whether I feel grumpy, I will do at least one thing for myself every day, if possible. ("If possible," because some days it's difficult to do something easy for myself that actually makes me happy, and it's better not to do something just to pretend it makes me happy. ;))
6. Projects which interest me but don't fall into the allowed New Projects category will be added to the list of things I'd like to do, and will be dealt with once the Obligation Diet has fulfilled its purpose, that is...

...until I have no more than, say, two or three running creative obligations, or however many I am capable of sustaining without feeling stressed and without being unable to comfortably and easily add more obligations in should they come up unexpectedly.

I used to say I was happiest when doing the impossible, which is true, except that right now I'm not doing the impossible, I'm maundering through the unlikely and not intrinsically flattering. ;)

I shall now print out the guidelines for the UFO diet, and keep them in my pocket at all times, so I can't forget. Good luck to me. ;D (UFO Diet ... GO!)

Related lists to make: the UFO list, the Cheerful Things to Do For Me list
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