Wednesday, January 22, 2014

Managing Creative Curses


By Diane Krause


As a writer, you're likely a "creative type." Not all writers are, of course. Many books come from people who love to persuade or influence, and bookstore shelves are lined with business and leadership guides from some of society's best and brightest (and richest). 

But chances are—especially if you write fiction—you fall somewhere along the flaky artist spectrum. I'm right there with you. We're the thinkers, dreamers, and innovators who see a world full of possibilities and easily grasp "the big picture." 

We're also the wayward children in a society of fast-paced high achievers. Certainly we have much to offer the world with our high level of creativity and our warm, loving personalities. Yet we do constantly battle what I call the Creative Curses. If that strikes a chord with you, keep reading and we'll have a little chat about creative curses and how to manage them. 

PerfectionismHi, I'm Diane and I'm a perfectionist. Anyone else brave enough to admit it? As creative, conceptual thinkers, we have the capacity to clearly envision the ideal. Combine that with a high need for a good challenge, and our strengths can end up working against us. To manage this, I have to turn off the voice in my own head and listen to the wisdom of those whose success I'd like to model. Those wise voices remind me that the rest of the world often demands less of me than I demand of myself. So, keep moving and don't stress over hitting the ideal. You can always go back and adjust if your work needs to be a little more perfect. 

Over-thinking. Creative types often require a lot of time for thought before making a decision or commitment. This is because we need to feel we've collected all the information necessary to make a good, informed decision. Do you get bogged down naming characters, filling in an adequate back-story, or considering all the details of your setting? We creative types are very comfortable dwelling in our heads, so we're always at risk of thinking too much and doing too little. I've had to train myself to cut off my thinking time and set deadlines for making decisions. I borrow the behavior of more Type A personalities who are comfortable with ready-fire-aim. Sometimes we need to try that strategy, realizing it's not the end of the world to go back and change course, or even start over, later. 

Self-Management. Creative types are highly sensitive, so we're always aware of the pull toward our comfort zone. That comfort zone may be thinking, doing research, isolation, or hours wasted away on Pinterest finding the perfect visual representation of the setting for our bestseller-to-be. As with the perfectionism problem, it's good to establish a model for self-management—someone you feel exercises the habits you'd like to adopt. Resist the urge, though, to feel you need to replicate someone else's habits. Model their good habits, but modify them so they're realistic for you. Don't unintentionally sabotage yourself by trying to be something you're not. 

Yes, we do battle more creative curses than just these three, but I'll stop with these lest I start sounding critical. The goal in addressing creative curses is to capitalize on our strengths and not allow them to become weaknesses. Enlisting a fellow writer as an accountability partner can be helpful—someone who understands your creative drive but is willing to give you a kick in the pants when you start lagging. 

Are you a creative type? Do you battle these same creative curses? What management strategies work for you? 
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Diane Krause is a freelance editor, writer, and author of 25 Ways to Create Classic Characters Readers Will Love. You can connect with Diane through her website at www.thedianekrause.com, or on Twitter @DianeKrause2. Her book, 25 Ways to Create Classic Characters Readers Will Love is a short book designed to inspire writers and provide a jump-start on creating believable fictional characters. Diana wrote the James Scott Bell interview in Southern Writers Magazine’s May 2013 issue. 

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