WILD IDEAS … musings for the mind, food for the soul.

Ten Strategies For Successful Beginnings

This is Part 2 of a two-part series about the challenges inherent in creative beginnings. You can read “Beginnings, Part 1” here.

1.  Trust your intuition.

Be receptive to your own rhythms and visions. There’s lots of free advice out there about most anything you’d like to begin. Saturate yourself with as much research as you can. Then adapt what works. Create an approach that honors your idiosyncratic style of accomplishing things.

2.  Stay in the present.

Release expectations by giving yourself permission to be a beginner. As creators, we frequently have no idea about how to proceed. But that’s okay; we’ll figure it out along the way. Frustration is a sign that a breakthrough is at hand. Take a break and come back. Be patient. You’re almost there!

3.  Do something mindless.

Channel nervous energy into a repetitive task. This will take the focus off your anxiety and leave you with the energy to get started. Clean your desk, wash the breakfast dishes by hand, or take a walk around the block.

4.  Focus on the process, not the product.

The goal of creativity is the feeling of aliveness and connection that accompanies the process of self-expression. Let go of the need to produce a product others will admire.

5.  Don’t analyze.

Welcome constructive criticism later on in the creative process, when it’s time to edit your work—never in the beginning. Just get stuff out; it doesn’t matter whether it’s good. Start working and keep on going no matter what—somewhere down the line you’ll experience the flow.

6.  Let go but don’t relax too much.

I’ve heard that some artists meditate before working, but I find that “mellowness” works against my process. A little tension provides the energy to leap into action. Channel anxiety into work and it will quickly dissipate.

7.  Heal the past.

It can be difficult to begin if you are holding on to unfinished business. Ask yourself: What experiences or relationships remain unresolved and how might they be interfering with my capacity to begin? Are there losses I still need to grieve before I can open to something new?

8.  Release perfection.

There will always be a gap between your vision and the final product. This is the on-going incompleteness inherent to the creative process. Aim to do your best, then apply what you learned the next time. There are always more chances for an open-hearted creator.

9.  Confront procrastination.

Ask yourself: When I put off what I long to accomplish, what deeper feelings am I attempting to avoid? Incompetence? Anxiety? Excitement? Disappointment? Engulfment? Rejection? Overwhelm? Abandonment? Success? Failure? Or something else? What are the consequences of indulging procrastination? Which feels worse: the guilt of avoiding the task or the anxiety of facing it?

10.  Keep a journal.

A journal or notebook can be a good place to record your ideas and confront your fears. Give your feelings a voice rather than allowing them to fester and undermine your efforts.

A few ideas to try in your journal…

  •  Write a dialogue between yourself and the task you tend to avoid.
  • Describe in detail precisely what you do to avoid beginning a cherished project.
  • Imagine you have started and completed your project. Close your eyes; notice the specific sensations. Write a page describing how you feel?
  • Not a writer? Try drawing/doodling your resistance to beginning—or even dancing it.

Here’s a bonus strategy that really works! ! !

11.  Reward yourself.

Rewards that support your creativity leave you feeling refreshed and energized—and ready to re-engage your passions rather than hungover, in-debt, or ashamed. Make sure the kind of “reward” you choose doesn’t end up sabotaging your process by leaving you guilt-ridden.

Do you want to keep learning and growing creatively?

Get acquainted with those secret saboteurs that wreak havoc on your productivity. Together we can turn them into a powerful creative team. Contact me to schedule a 20-minute complimentary phone consultation. You can also check out my book Wild Ideas: Creativity from the Inside Out. Read Related post: Beginnings, Part 1