11.28.16 Project Update

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I didn’t spend much time working over the last 10 days because my family was at home and I wanted to enjoy being with them…particularly my son who has been in Asia for most of the year.

It felt luxurious to listen to my son’s stories and observations without feeling the pressure of having to get something done.

With this project being so close to completion I’m surprised by how little motivation I feel to do the last few steps. I’m not entirely sure why I feel so resistant to doing these last steps.

I made commitments in my writing support groups that I would complete the article this week as a way to hold myself accountable.

While I intend to meet this commitment, it hasn’t given me much in the way of energy or motivation.

In the Creative Process, Robert Fritz talks about using the structural tension between our goal and current reality as a “little engine” that moves us forward. He has also talked about how, as structural tension lessens, our drive to do the work also lessens. I’m wondering if the reduction in structural tension accounts for my loss of interest.

Something I’m doing as a way to increase structural tension is to create a more exciting image of the goal. Although I think my written description of the desired outcome in this project is good; certainly good enough to get me to 95% complete, I’m needing something more to do that final 5%.

I like visuals a lot. Sometimes a picture really does capture more than words alone. So for my daily creation I’m drawing a picture of what the finished product will look like. I’ve also included some marketing copy to reinforce the benefits of the article to my intended audience and the benefits to me when it’s completed.

Here’s my goal in a more concrete visual

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I consider this project a success when I’ve completed all the steps in my action plan. Whether an audience responds will be something I study and learn from but not something on which my self esteem rests.

11.14.16 Let’s Play Candyland!

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When I was a kid Candyland was my favorite board game. Not only was it easy to play, the journey just got better and better. Today’s creation is a landscape made of leftover Halloween candy that’s been sitting by our front door for the last couple weeks.

11.10.16 Update

I’ve finished the second written draft of my how to article.

Next thing to do an editorial pass and document the following:

  • Changes to make to the text to make the article easier to use assuming no major changes to the content.
  • Changes I would make if I were to do a major update.

Some observations:

  • Maybe someone should take all the graphic applications off my mac. I write this half-jokingly. Nothing swallows me whole in terms of time spent like messing around in Photoshop and Illustrator. Nothing.
  • I surrender! I’m going to purchase an Adobe Illustrator subscription. I would love to become more adept using a free or inexpensive piece of software but Illustrator is the standard language most designers speak.. It’s easier to find classes and get help.

specific Next steps:

  • Print the article as it is currently on WordPress.
  • Make final changes.
  • Publish
  • Send to writing group buddies for feedback.

Insights

As I’ve put together this article I’ve gotten a lot of idea for things I would like to do to make the article more useful to an audience. A limitation that keeps bugging me is my lack of skill when it comes to creating the right images. I’ve already written about this issue and possible solutions. It’s just worth noting that I often like to use images when I’m explaining a concept or giving step by step instructions. I find the right image can take results-based content from “meh” to “yeah!”

One of my continuing challenges is to resist the temptation to raise the bar on my goal as I have ideas for improving the outcome.

I’ve been blowing off my daily creations lately and want to get back into that routine. I guess I’d like to find some objects that are a little more interesting than silver <grin>.

I recently purchased Robert Fritz’ book “The Path of Least Resistance for Managers” and am looking forward to getting into the material. I’m finding that the Creating Your Life course is great for personal project where I’m the main player. I’m curious, however, how do you apply these ideas when you’re working on something which depends on a group of people working together toward a common objective.

11.05.16 Update

I’m close to complete on the How-to article. I estimate I have 2-3 hours remaining in writing the article. Some observations about the goal and current reality:

  • My goal was to create a how to article for DIY-type people searching for good gift ideas. They could follow the steps I lay out in the article to create what I’m calling a “Story Card Book.”
  • I’ve followed all the steps I laid out in my Action Plan. This is a good thing!
  • I have realized with the benefit of time and emotional distance that the article gets bogged down in technical details. Some people may care about how I enlarged the card face image. Most won’t. In my next draft I’ll expand on areas of general interest.

I’m now working with a small group of writers and have the benefit of their feedback. Although this project was to be one I could do without the input or permission of other people, involving people in this type of project would have been an advantage. That may be a guidelines I don’t follow in my next project.

I’m going to publish the first version of my article because I’m sure there are people who will find it helpful. I have a commitment currently to publishing my work rather than sitting on it because it isn’t perfect.

11.02.16 Distractions, distractions!

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My update was 8 days ago. Ugh! I was wondering “what happened?” and took a look at my how I used my time last week. What the heck occupied my attention?

Here’s what happened: I enrolled in a writing class and got immersed in my writing assignment.

I had recently listened to an interview with Lindsey Vonn who talked about her experiences with body image and self care and thought it would be a great topic to write about. Like a lot of women I’ve struggled with body image, diet, and feeling genuinely good about my appearance. So I spent a large chunk of the last week connecting with women via social media and writing about what I learned.

  • Exploring the topic produced a lot of positive results:
    Women who responded have a strong interest in the topic and in creating positive options.
  • The responses opened up lots of possible directions to take my research.
  • I wrote up everything in an extensive outline.

But I did not work on the article and this has affected my timeline. My 2-week project is turning into a one month project.

In addition, I have a compulsion to create original artwork for my blog posts. Even a quick sketch on paper can cause problems. For example, last week I spent several hours trying to figure out how to “erase” lines from sketches I do on lined paper. I found a solution but I’m not sure it was worth the three hours I spent messing around with Adobe Acrobat’s prepress tools. Talk about brain damage!.

  • Lessons I’m taking away:
    All of this comes back to making conscious decisions. Sometimes it’s fun to have time when I can pursue my whims and inspirations. But too often I chase a whim before I’ve taken care of the work I have scheduled.
  • To cut myself some slack here, again, this is a personal project. When it’s work-related and people are depending on my deliverables, I stay on schedule.
  • Reduce distractions. I still take on too many commitments. Remember I can say “maybe” rather than “yes.” I may also want to consider just getting away from my computer. The Internet is a minefield of distractions.

Today I’m going to spend time working on the how-to article. I’m going to write for 30-minutes. I could spend more time but 30-minutes is what fits my schedule today. The goal for now is to find time to write even if the time comes in very small increments.

 

10.24.16 Update

Today I added the article’s draft version. Now the article is really taking shape as I combine the text and images.

I’m glad I added a few days to the timeline because:

  • Now that the draft is in WordPress I’ve see it needs more editing. What looks fine  using a desktop application may not look fine online.
  • The article will be one long post and I found a WordPress plugin that makes it easy to add links to areas within a post (so a reader can jump to a specific section in the article without having to scroll and scroll).

I’ll be using an hour a day this week to snazz up the format and copy edit.

10.22.16 Project Update

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I’ve created all the images for the how-to article. All that’s left to do is to insert the article text, add images, and adjust spacing so that the article is easy to read.

Insights

The last image is of the card as it looked before I wrapped and mailed it. I wish I had taken a few snapshots of the card before wrapping it but I was in a hurry to get it in the mail. I figured I could probably recreate it somehow.

But creating a somewhat realistic version didn’t work very well. I tried to create a booklet that looked 3-D in Photoshop and using another application called 3-D Boxshot. After messing around for an hour with no luck I gave up.

In Creating Your Life, Robert Fritz talk about how much of our time creating will be frustrating because we are learning the skills necessary to create what we want. This is a perfect example where I had a clear image of what I wanted to create but don’t have the skills and know how to create that image.

It’s worth noting here that this frustration is inherent in the journey and is not a sign that I should give the journey up. I’ve found that in today’s culture of instant gratification it’s helpful to remember looking foolish and stumbling in part of the path to mastery. So my willingness to take the steps and look awkward is worth celebrating.