My latest approach to banishing those to-do list pressures from my personal creative projects is to put together a “Fun Things To Do List” every three or four months. It’s just one page of whatever activities I happen to be enjoying at the time, mixed in with a few creative projects that I would like to get done—or, at least, to get moving forward.
Picking a few items for the list helps me to stay focused on making progress with them. Even if I write only a few sentences at a time, that still gets something done on the project, which is better than sitting there looking at a big heap of unfinished stuff and wondering what to do. By putting my creative projects in with random unimportant things like “watch the latest superhero movie” or “play video games,” I remind myself they are mainly for fun. No life or death consequences are attached to finishing a blog post or a story.
That’s not to say I consider the projects unimportant. On the contrary, I would describe myself as an ambitious writer, seeking to touch my readers’ emotions and have a positive impact on the culture. But just as with anything else, stressing about creativity and trying to force it can be counterproductive. The muse needs plenty of space to fly around sprinkling fairy dust on whatever takes her fancy!
Production schedules can be helpful in reasonable doses, of course. Since I began writing weekly Clutter Comedy posts, I’ve made a lot more progress in getting old junk out of my house, in addition to creating more content for my blog. I also enjoy taking part in Nurturing Thursday, which reminds me to set aside time for restful, nurturing activities.
Having regular features on my blog does not overwhelm me with production pressure because those entries are relatively short and structured, so they flow easily. What’s more problematical is writing unstructured blog posts on different topics regularly (such as this one) while also having plenty of other creative projects in various stages of completion, which totally lack a schedule.
When I work on a book or other large project, I sometimes feel pressured to write a blog entry instead, as otherwise it might not get done. And if there’s a week when I don’t write anything but blog entries, then I feel like I’m slacking off with the large projects. Because I have too many large projects to put them all on a production schedule, just deciding what to do can feel like a major drain on my mental energy.
Choosing two or three projects for the near future gives me permission to set aside the others till later, without feeling guilty for neglecting them. The projects I’ve picked for my current list are turning a short-story collection into a free Kindle book, creating content for a new website, and writing more installments of Breaking the Ice. Setting a fuzzy “due date” a few months from now gives me some impetus to stick to the schedule, but it’s not looming over me as an anxiety-provoking hard deadline.
Posting this entry also gives me a bit of accountability, in that I may have readers looking for the free Kindle book or expecting to find more story installments over the next few months! Coming soon…