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.

10.20.16 Project Update

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Current Reality Snapshot

All images but one are completed. YAY!

I’m setting the publishing date to 10/26 although I’m leaving it as 10/23 on the Action Plan. This gives me more time to complete exercises in Creating Your Life.

Insights

The specific steps in the creative process are actually pretty simple. If you’ve done any project management you’ll find it easy to create and update Structural Tension Charts.

The more challenging part in the creative process is the mindset piece because shifting from a problem solving perspective to a creating perspective doesn’t come naturally to most of us myself included. Creating Your Life provides lots of exercises and ideas for making the mindset shift easier and I want to spend some time doing those exercises.

Without taking time to integrate the ideas I quickly get caught up in checking off boxes on my ToDo list. While I love the endorphin rush of checking off those little boxes, it can get addictive and I’m back to mindless activity and problem solving instead of  consciously creating.

10.19.16 Update

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Today I created images meant to look like templates. There are three templates and I wanted the templates to show how page elements were positioned so it would be easy to add text and images. I thought I would use graphic Design software like Adobe Illustrator to create the template images but Illustrator doesn’t play with Apple’s latest OS. I finally ended up going with “good enough” and creating them using Adobe InDesign. They don’t look great but they get the information across.

This has got me thinking that it’s worth the investment to buy the version of Illustrator that works with Apple’s new OS.

This is also an example of how shifting the focus from problem-solving to creating my desired end result shifts how I do work and the decisions I make. If my focus was on solving the problem I would have spent hours figuring out how to create these images using less expensive software. But because my focus is creating something by a specific date and the time I allot each day for this project, I’m realizing it makes more sense to invest in software I know how to use.

I also made progress creating a couple other images. I like using grid paper to get my ideas down. Having my ideas sketched out helps me work faster and more decisively.

10.18.16 Update

 

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Today I also got started on creating images. It’s interesting to me that although creating images is one of my favorite things to do when creating technical content, it’s something I seem to put off until the last minute. I think there’s probably some fear underlying my hesitation. Perfectionism perhaps?

In addition to reducing the number of images in my How-to article, I also cut the steps for sending the article our for proofreading and copy editing.

Creating Your Life advises you to choose goals that you can complete on your own; that don’t require the permission or or input from others. So much of this course is about what contributes to being an effective creator. And being an effective creator is about keeping our view of current reality as objective as possible. So it’s important to understand things you do, yourself, as a creator which may improve or muck up accomplishing goals. When we bring other people into our projects it can muddy our understanding of cause and effect.As an added bonus, removing the outside review makes it easier to complete this project within my deadline.

10.17.16 Update

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After reviewing my list of illustrations, I selected 8 out of 18 which I think truly add to my How-to article. This will make it easier to complete the article by the 10/23 deadline.

 

10.15.16 Project Update

After reviewing the How to document and identifying places where the article would be improved by an illustration or diagram I’ve identified 18 possible images to create. This is more than I anticipated.

I enjoy creating images but I’m wondering what the effect will be on my timeline.

I’m going to take another pass at the list of illustrations to see what I could create and make the 10.23.16 deadline.

Here’s a pdf file showing the Structural Tension Chart as of today: 10.15.16 Structural Tension Chart

10.11.16 Project Update Creative Process Style

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I’m a week behind on completing the “How to” article and I adjusted due dates accordingly.

Why did I get behind? Last week I decided to look at ways other companies are offering learning content. In particular, I looked at what Google is doing for it’s G Suite product (formerly Google Apps) and Google Analytics. I took screenshots of lessons that were most relevant to what I’m creating.

I learned some good lessons, in particular, Google keeps their online learning very short and chunked for products used by the general public. More technical material is more wordy but is still to the point. Analytics Academy includes an initial video lesson.

Two things I’ve learned from this little detour:

  1. For future projects I’m going to consider scheduling time to check out examples if I don’t have an existing template.
  2. I’m going to keep back to keeping things as simple as possible: using whatever formatting tools are available to make the lesson easy to use but no custom formatting or complex images.

Here’s a pdf of the revised Structural Tension Chart.