So, you’re a creative sod who new-year’s resolved to create something this year? Good. Here’s what I want you to do.
by Ingrid Elkner
Write it down.
On paper preferably, and if you’re on your phone/tablet/laptop right now and tree-skinless, email it to yourself. Write down your goal, this thing you want to make.
Turn that into a checklist. Type it up fresh or rewrite it. These are your steps to take. Keep it by your computer, on your fridge, in your shoe, wherever.
Each time you get overwhelmed by the idea of actually doing the thing you want to do, you can instead look at the checklist, see the next step and think, “That’s not that hard, I can just do one tiny little thing today”. You get to tick the page, and feel hella-proud of yourself. That kicks arse over feeling guilty, which is just a shit-spiral.
And if you’re sitting around doing nothing but hitting refresh on your Facebook feed, you can glance at the list and decide to do something constructive instead.
You get to tick the page, and feel hella-proud of yourself.
By doing this, you won’t forget an important part of the process and you’ll work efficiently. Growing into adults we forget the power of baby steps. Easy things first. You don’t even need to think of the end product. You’re just completing the task in front of you. No pressure. And next thing you know, that thing you wanted to create has been created! It’s real, it exists! And it didn’t seem like too much work looking back on it.
What do you do next? Pat yourself on your back and start the next project. You achieved so awesomely the first time, you should do it again. And again. And again! Until you have a body of work that makes you beam, and never felt like a chore to produce.
The first step is the hardest, but considering the easiest tasks will be at the top of the list, you’re slipping into the shallow end. It’s all about momentum. If you do only one task a day, you’re flying towards the finish line.
You can employ the ‘don’t break the chain’ method, committing to one tick a day. You don’t even have to create a deadline for yourself. Deadlines tend to freak us out as we get closer to them, we start avoiding the project, sticking our heads in the sand, and if the deadline elapses… We’re so ridden with guilt we may never return to the project. Another dream that meant the world to us abandoned out of self-sabotage. Ain’t nobody got time for that!
If you do only one task a day, you’re flying towards the finish line.
Maybe you can give yourself an hour to get a task done. A lot of screenwriters love writing sprints because it’s one contained hour, the work feels finite, and you can be free as soon as time’s up.
I often work more efficiently in that one hour than if I sit down and try to write without parameters. Often, I’ll even go longer than the hour, maybe 3 hours or more, on a roll. And knowing others are sprinting at the same time makes me feel competitive, against them, and against myself. Hey, whatever works!
So, hop to it. Write down that goal, create that checklist, tick that first tick. Share this article with other creative friends so you can prod each other to stay on track. Once you cross off the last line on your list, show off your achievement to the world. That’s exactly what I’m doing here – I wrote a checklist to help me complete this article, and now you’re reading it.
I’m also using checklists to finish more scripts than I have in my whole life, and it feels amazing. Achieving and creating things motivates others, who in turn achieve and create and motivate you. What a wonderful cycle.
Go on, make your dreams reality. We’re rooting for you.
Photo Credits: Ingrid Elkner
Ingrid Elkner exists in human form and as a finger-puppet.
She’s had fiction printed in anthologies, articles published on comedy sites, creates sketches and comics for her own comedy blog 10 Minutes Later , and is the writer of new short film, THE PROWLER, starring Colette O’Neil.
Ingrid studies screenwriting in Melbourne and shakes her fist at offensively-shaped clouds.