Professionalising Creativity

Professionalising Creativity

I’ve found this week difficult.

Last week, I created a Scrivener file of ideas for the next month. This was the year when I was going to professionalise my creativity. I was going to find a process. And every day, pitch at least one idea to a magazine.

This week, I suffered pitcher’s cul-de-sac, a variant of writer’s block. Those ideas looked a lot less brilliant in the bleak light of mid-January. I tried to fit them to good magazines, but the most promising angles were going to take far more time to develop. Others had already been covered by the most obvious outlet. One of my stories disintegrated with research. By yesterday, I’d only sent two of the five pitches I’d hoped.

My conclusion? Creativity might respond to regular hours and discipline, but it certainly doesn’t like production targets, even modest ones. It also becomes easily fed up of the same surroundings and inputs. In the end, I took yesterday off, to see people and think about a new sewing project. I started feeling human, and less like a broken machine.

While I was procrastinating on-line, I read a post from the Getting Things Done people about turning your problems into projects and looking for the ‘next action’. This morning, when there was no pressure- it was Saturday and I might have been at parkrun- I knew what I could do. I opened my computer and browsed through potential magazines on the WH Smith website. An hour later, I had plenty of leads to try next week.


The new organised (and slightly more courageous) me

The new organised (and slightly more courageous) me

This is not saying much, but I have never been as organised as I am now. Not since A level revision anyway.

The obvious reason is the children are now all at school. I have time, not just to go through files and washing but to think what I need to do and how best to do it. I’ve also space for trial and error.

I thought I was keeping records for the tax man. I do have a spreadsheet detailing articles, when and to whom they were pitched, when they were accepted, the fee agreed, when they were published and if I’ve sent an invoice. But not when they were banked- one of the few things HMRC actually want to know. I can look at my statements, but it’s another case of learning as I go along. I dreaded my first tax return as my own boss, but I now have a workable system. I’ve gone retro and have a paper cash book and a pencil case for work receipts inside my handbag.

Perhaps reasonably, given my medical background, I’ve been terrified of making mistakes or courting criticism before. Now, I find that’s how you learn. And as you learn, you gain confidence to try new things and make other errors.

It’s raining heavily outside. I was thinking about going for a run, but…





The wrong temperature for a reset.

The wrong temperature for a reset.

Am I alone in thinking New Year is a very strange time for a reset? For one thing, I am in a state of over-relaxation, where it’s hard to take sudden school drop-offs and homework seriously. For another, it’s freezing. Like a reptile, I slow down when I’m cold. I’m torn between my need to keep on top of things and a desire to curl up in front of the fire and go to sleep.

But I’m finding end-of-day lists really helpful. They not only provide a “sign off” before I switch back to parent mode for school pick-up, I know where to start the next morning, circumventing the need for decision-making much before lunch.

A couple of journalistic firsts (for me, not mankind) this week:

One of my editors suggested I write under a pseudonym. I had a happy minute or two trying to work out a name that would baffle the authorities before I realised, as I’m not indulging in espionage, my maiden name would suffice.

I saw one of my pieces advertised in the “coming soon” section of a magazine. And that was how I found out it had been accepted.

Happy New Year. Thank you for reading my blog. It justifies my pleasure writing it.

New Year- good or bad timing for a restart?  Anyone else slow down in the cold?