In order to produce anything, you have to fight to break through the wall.

Years ago, I led a visual artist’s group. A favorite topic was the creative process and how others channeled their creativity so they actually felt they accomplished something.

It didn’t take long to notice that everyone had to fight to be creative.

I still haven’t read Steven Pressfield’s The War of Art: Break Through the Blocks and Win Your Inner Creative Battles (someday!), but I have read his other book, Do The Work.

In Do The Work, he describes Resistance (and yes, he capitalizes the word, making it into an entity) as such:

Resistance (i.e., fear, self-doubt, procrastination, addiction, distraction, timidity, ego and narcissism, self-loathing, perfectionism, etc.)

That’s a lot of Resistance.

Fear, Self-Doubt, Self-Loathing

I’m going to throw out some commonly held platitudes but I’m hoping that if you’re in the place where you need encouragement, you’ll give yourself the chance to really absorb the truth.

You have something special and you are someone who is special.

It is very easy to look at all the well-known business leaders, the movers-and-shakers, the ones fielding countless speaking invitations and think, “I will never reach that level of influence.”

As Henry Ford famously quipped: “Whether you think you can, or you think you can’t–you’re right.”

The point is, your level of success is determined by you. People like Seth Godin, Gary Vaynerchuk, Ann Handley, Jeffrey Gitomer, Joe Polish, Mary Ellen Tribbe, and many, many more – all started from the same place as everyone else.

The bottom.

There was certainly a day when no one knew who Brian Clark was (of Copyblogger fame) or Chris Brogan.

But there is a very simple reason why many people know about them today.

They never stopped trying.

I just celebrated my first year as a solopreneur. However, it was a long road to get to where I am now and I’m still in my “just starting” phase.

It took years of trying things that didn’t work and then trying something new. Years of studying and researching to find what I love doing most and then, getting really, really good at it. Good enough to where someone pays me to do it.

Whatever it is that you’re doing, if you really want to do it, don’t quit. Fight through the Resistance that tells you that you can’t do it, that you’re not worth it, that you’re a fraud.

This isn’t the truth.

The truth is, you’re just now getting serious about letting the world know you’ve got the goods.

Do It Anyway

Yesterday’s post was excruciating. I mean downright painful.

I’ve been conducting this experiment of blogging Monday through Friday since June 6, 2013. Sometimes the posts come easily. Sometimes not. Yesterday was definitely a “not.”

I had another idea for a post that just wasn’t coalescing into an actionable outline (I like my posts to be actionable as much as possible).

I remember staring at my blank Word document page and just sighing.

And then, I pushed myself. Really hard.

I said to myself, “Write. Just write. Something. Anything. You can always go back and change things. Just write.”

And that’s how most of my writing is done.

I can’t afford to wait for inspiration. I have bills to pay.

The point is that I have an inner perfectionist running around, constantly nipping at my heels while screeching, “This is crap! No one cares! No one is going to read this slop!”

I’m learning to ignore that perfectionist and write the crap down, anyway.

Remember: you can always improve upon what you’ve created. But you first have to create something that needs improvement.

I Trick Myself And Play Mind Games

I bribe myself constantly.

Finish this blog post and get a piece of chocolate.

Or, get a good start on this large project and I’ll treat myself to an episode of Battlestar Galactica.

I am unashamed to admit I need to devise a carrot-on-a-stick to get my butt in gear. And there’s a good chance you’re the same way.

So in order to be productive, tell yourself how you’ll reward that productivity. It could be a walk in the park, thirty minutes enjoying a good book with your favorite beverage, a phone call with a friend, or a catnap.

I cannot stress how important this is for those of us who are involved with creative work and are solopreneurs.

We don’t have a company recognition program, folks. We ARE the company recognition program!

And so, reward yourself for being productive. For “gettin’ ‘er done.” For staying late at work when everyone else is enjoying a beer or a meal with the family.

You so very much deserve it.

Set The Timer

I subscribe to the Pomodoro Technique.

I set my iPhone timer for 25 minutes and get cracking.

I write (and it’s amazing how much I can write in 25 minutes) until the timer goes off. When it does, I get up, stretch, walk around, look outside, grab a cup of coffee and thank God for having the freedom to do all of it.

Then after a few minutes, I realize I have more to do and get my butt back in the chair and start the timer all over again.

25 minutes is perfect because it handles the fidgety creative soul quite well.

Plus, I admit there have been many times that once I get rolling, I don’t want to stop. I’ve hit that much-sought after “flow” often and when I’m zoned out on producing copy, I don’t really want to stop.

However, I put my limit at 2 hours. More than that and my body starts to fossilize.

Give yourself room to breathe. Trust that when you do the work of battling Resistance, that your true genius will rise to the surface and surprise the hell out of you.

You’ll be producing the work you’ve always wanted.

You just have to pound away at that brick wall with a sledgehammer to do it.

Photo credit: Sebastiano Pitruzzello (aka gorillaradio) / Foter / CC BY-NC-ND

Comments

4 responses to “My Confession On Productivity: How I Fight Fear And Produce The Work”

  1. Mickey Maguire Avatar

    Don’t let Mary Rose fool you. Yes, there are times when creatives do have writer’s block. Believe me, my wife is seldom short of things to say– whether it be print, online, or person-to-person. She can tussle with the best of them in a debate, too.

    The important lesson here is plugging onward. Like professional cyclists in the Tour de France, the race is won in the mountains where it takes determination to reach the top. And so it is with the copywriter.

    More important than finding the words is not finding too many. Focus is everything.

  2. Mary Rose Maguire Avatar

    And there you have it… my copy editor. Gotta love him! I He keeps me straight when it comes to the “too many words” part.

    I blame it on being half-Italian. Many times we just don’t know when to shut up. :-)

  3. Dawn Howard Weaver Avatar

    I love all of this. I have recently revamped myself as a coach and added in blogging. I thought it would be the perfect way for people to get to know me and what I offer. I recently found the pomodoro technique but have only tried it a couple of times. I agree fully that once I begin writing it is hard to stop. I get into a creative flow and want to carry on and on. Thanks for the support in saying how great we are and that what we have to share is great as well. You are uplifting and inspiring. So, thank you for the gift of YOU!

    Regards,

    Dawn

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