Wednesday, June 1, 2011

Forget the Muse, Just Get to Work

I'm taking an amazing class I call my "Woman Empowerment" class, but the name doesn't come close to describing the wide range of material we're covering. As part of our curriculum, we've read and listened to some of the works of Steve Chandler, a life coach, business consultant, public speaker and author of 30 books. Our group was lucky to have a Q&A session with him by telephone.

Steve's books have powerful titles like 100 Ways to Motivate Yourself and Reinventing Yourself, so when it was my turn to talk with him, I wanted to discuss writing.

Image via Wikipedia
"Steve, I'm a writer, and lately I've had trouble getting motivated. I think it's because I'm feeling really happy! I usually write about things that are problems for me, or at least puzzles to work out. But right now I'm content, so I got nothin'. Do you think creativity is fueled by dissatisfaction?"

I felt pretty smarty pants about my question. Here I was with a successful author, about to compare notes about  the creative process.

Steve has a deep voice and speaks verrry slowly, but it didn't take long for him to identify my happinesss as a run-of-the-mill form of procrastination.

"When I'm working on a book, I take a very blue collar approach to creativity," he said.

In other words, Steve Chandler doesn't wait for his muse to show up; he sits down every day and does his job. He may or may not feel inspired every moment, but he does the work because he knows it requires consistent effort to achieve his goals.

He speaks to this very issue in his book, Time Warrior.
If I only work when I'm "inspired" my work won't be reliable, and it won't be accountable. It won't be a grown-up activity. I'll be like some kid always trying to decide something.
My problem with productivity only happens when I don't have a discipline. Because then I wake up every day trying to decide if I feel like doing it. And that's like waking up and trying to decide whether I "feel like" flying to New York, even thought I have a ticket and a seat on the plane.  
Okay, I get it. It's accountability.

Happiness be damned - moods cannot dictate whether I write or not. Call it blue collar, call it grown up, or call it a good habit (this month's theme) - but I need to develop the discipline of honest to goodness hard work, whether I "feel like it" or not.

More on this and other good habits to come!

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