Walter Mitty, a Hero for Stuck Creatives



If you know the James Thurber short story, The Secret Life of Walter Mitty, you know fantasy is a major pastime for the story’s main character. Elaborate fantasies that keep Mitty in a drab life of little.

Ben Stiller’s recent movie treatment, however, starts with this fruitless fantasizing but leads us to the power of transforming imagination and trust the end of the movie Walter Mitty travels from being stuck to unstuck.

Mitty is a hyper-organized, quiet employee, who works in photo receiving within the large storage library at declining Life magazine. His title, negative assets manager, can be taken two ways: as a real role at Life but personally as the manager of his negative assets.  Those include: high-level shyness; passivity; lack of passion to follow his own dreams; day-dreaming to the point of trancing out; and, inability to see his own worth. These are not terrible negative assets but just the sort of characteristics found in many stuck creatives. Enough to hold him, and us, back.

His early fantasies show Mitty as action hero, creative genius, and great lover.  But those drop away quickly as Mitty is thrown into a situation where he is under pressure to take action and leave his storage room.

He must move onward, but he still lacks the motivating power to do so. A co-worker, played by Kristin Wiig, seems to be only the girl of the boy-meets-girl formula,  but she is more that. She is his muse. His attraction for her draws Mitty into the world, out of the shadows and his fantasies.

Getting to know her requires Mitty to take chances, to push himself beyond his comfort level, to take what may come. He needs these skills throughout the remainder of the movie as the scale of his life booms grander.

His muse, gives him the shield and the energy he needs to go fully on his great travels. Kiig’s character explains a recurring element of Stiller’s movie, David Bowie’s song, Space Oddity. In a great scene we see shy Mitty electrified by this song and Wiig’s image and we can’t but also feel this powerful release from stuckness.

> Practice: Do you have inspiring images? If so, bring them back to vividness. If you don’t, take another look at movies, books, music, places, that have moved you to creativity or inspiration. Still can’t find any? It is o.k. to go in search of one.

At last released, Mitty can now fully launch out to track down the one person who can solve his work problems, a great photojournalist who travels to the world’s very dangerous locations.  Mitty must walk into dangers. At first, shy Mitty seems so much smaller than the daring photographer.  Soon we see, by traveling and taking chances, Mitty has grown to be a co-equal.

Walther Mitty trusts. He trusts that travel and pushing himself to manage the obstacles of travel  will crack him open to a greater life. A rational person, cautious person would say this is all absurd. There are no muses. No reasons to take chances. Visualization will only disrupt life, not add to it. Trust in the unknown and unseen is crazy.

> Practice: You have trusted before. List the times and instances you have trusted; don’t overly focus on the results of that trusting but the trusting itself.

The Secret Life of Walter Mitty reminds us in a beautiful and compelling way, that trust frequently pays off.  Life gets bigger and more important when we get off well marked paths and try new trails. It won’t be easy, but it will be stimulating and broadening.

Mitty is different at the end of the movie, of course. But something unexpected awaits him back where he started. He gets to see that his years of slow, quiet, quality work in the negative assets library had made him a hero of sorts and an unsung creative shaping the experience of millions. He was Life magazine, the greatest photojournalism publication in the world.

Movie trailer:


New Video: Quicksand!

Underwood_no5This is a Talking Typewriter Production – Which means this video has also been turned into text. So…you can read this video below or you may watch the video itself, above. It’s the same stuff. It’s your choice.

Hi this is Gary Goodwin founder of The Stuck Creative and welcome. Today we’re going to look at getting started on the creative journey. I wish I could report that getting started, starting on a project or even on an entire creative life is easy, that it involves one inspired leap into creativity.

The Road is Tough
But actually it is tough going. Going from desire to be creative, having an idea to actually completing a project is a very long, long journey. Most of us have not been on this journey before so we don’t know what to pack or how to prepare. We don’t know where to go, we don’t even know what’s on the path, what’s on the map. We don’t know how to relate where we have been to where we’re going. Basically we are lost before we even start.

Creatives Must Get Unstuck
As creatives we must travel. We must find a way to get going and to stay free. Being stuck is not good for creatives. Being stuck is demoralizing and it can easily convince us that we don’t have what it takes, that the trip is not worth it and perhaps we shouldn’t even try to travel. Our initial stuckness and our struggles with it only drive us into more stuckness. Now I’m going to suggest today that we can learn how to break free of this trap by consulting with old adventure movies. Action heroes in the 1940s well into the 1960s had to face a common trap, much like our own troubles around getting started.

Quicksand, a simple combination of sand and water was the monster out to get the brave and the just during this multi-decade period. Invisible and binding, the hero couldn’t see it until the earth gave out beneath his feet, then he was trapped. It was too late. Will our hero make it out? Our trap is not made of sand and water but it’s the traps in our daily mindset. What was solid earth and got us from where we wanted to go in almost everything we do throughout the day, if we persist with that it’s going to give out from under us and put us into stuck mess.

Our usual mindset will remain our trap if we don’t create a new one. It won’t be easy because we have to drop a lot of what we know and do. That which we know so well that has done so much for us, we need to change how we hold those skills. We need to put them on the shelf for a while. We must do things differently. Of course we must have a different mindset. Now for the things we need to drop to get to the new mindset.

Drop Driving Forward Movement
First we have to drop of a lot of our desire to struggle our way out of quicksand. Using driving forward movement to change things will only exhaust us when we’re stuck. We also need to give up that desire, that hope that we can shortcut or trick or [console 00:05:00] or persuade or hack or assume our smarts will get us out of this stuckness.

Drop Thinking We Don’t Have to do the Work
That stuff doesn’t work when simple work reality is concerned. Everyone has to travel the same basic path and we’ve got to do the work, not shortchange the work, not ignore the work, not deny the work, not do the work halfway. We must do the work. For instance to build muscular strength we must do things like lifting weights. Everyone has to work muscles to get stronger muscles. Everyone actually has to do the work to get stronger. Pedigree isn’t important here. No one is going to be able to skip over the fundamental work. That’s a reality. That’s a work reality.

Drop Looking for Short-Cuts
Again the desire to shortchange that or find a way around it is a waste of time and it actually will serve to keep us weak rather than make us stronger. Likewise counting on anything but our own hard work is crazy. Luck can help and can appear but that’s only a short term fix. We have to build our own strength to travel the long road between wanting to be creative and being a productive creative. Also most of us have spent too much time putting off work so we can’t afford any more time waiting around for luck or someone to rescue us or something to pop up. The sooner we start on our own path, building our own strength, the closer at last we’ll be to our creative lives and maybe actually getting a project started and done.

Drop Old Understanding of Time
Regarding time, time is different in this new mindset. We need to drop our certainty for how long things should take. Time is different where braking out of quicksand. Everything will be much much slower, many times slower than we can stand but we must learn how to be patient and steadily work because there’s no other choice. You must to the work since the work will not bend to us.

Drop Making Comparisons
Oh yes, there’s that whole thing about comparisons. We frequently are making comparisons  where we’re at or who we are, making comparisons with all sorts of other people. We see them racing ahead of us free of any impediment, sometimes skipping merrily down that creative road. Let the other people be where they’re at and let yourself be where you’re at. Bring attention back to what needs to be done for you to get out. Those people you see skipping down the road came through the same place, they too had to get through the quicksand around starting. Getting out of quicksand doesn’t take much information gathering, a little bit but not much. You’re going to get what you need here.

Drop Gathering More Information
Drop the urge to gather more information and turn what you will learn here into slow, steady action. That’s the key, slow, steady action with the little bit of knowledge that you need to get out of quicksand.

We just went through the things that need to be dropped to bring about a change of mindset to get us out of the quicksand of starting. Now we’re going to turn to things we need to pick up or to pack to make our mindset closer to what we need to get us down that creative road. It’s not just picking up but it’s actually embracing. At first we may embrace something we don’t fully understand or fully appreciate but over time if we look carefully and if we use it on a steady basis we will be able to embrace that and bring it closer to ourselves so that it can fully change our mindset.

Embrace Crawling
We need to embrace crawling, meaning that small, very small movement is what will propel us forward, and that crawling takes time. Actual quicksand is fluid enough to allow pockets of water, [inaudible 00:09:07] sand to form if we move our limbs and body slowly, very slowly. With each pocket that we develop from that slow movement the sand loosens its grip on us and we’re able to move just a little bit more.

Embrace Setbacks
Once we get into this slow steady movement we will now be able to handle setbacks because there will be setbacks. There are setbacks for us and there are setbacks for everybody else. We will know that movement forward sometimes means moving sideways or backwards or simply waiting for a while until things are [inaudible 00:09:54] Then we can move forward again. The sooner we can embrace that non linear movement is a fact of life, the sooner we can save the energy we formerly used to struggle against this reality.

Embrace Persistence
Slow and steady will only come from being excellent at patience and at persistence. Persistent focus and just the right amount of force is what we need, persistently. If we’ve done all the dropping and embracing just discussed, at some point our skill at spotting subtle openings or clues and help will develop. We will spot openings for movement, indications where we can move next. We will see clues that will us to understand our work better and we’ll see help that will appear from all sorts of sources.

Embrace Getting Dirty
About getting dirty, I’m not so much focused on how dirty we’ll get crawling out of quicksand, but using getting dirty as an analogy for being humble, doing whatever dirty work presents itself between where we are and where we want to go with our creative projects. No task are too small or to low for us to do, these are the things we need to do at this time. Our ego needs of being thought beautiful or smart or cool or always in control, get put on hold as we work our way out of our own quicksand.

Embrace Becoming a Different Person
We all have to change, that’s just the fundamental nature of this struggle out of stuckness.

How to Make This Work

– Remember what you have to drop and to embrace
Make your own list of the above things that need to be dropped followed by making a list of what you need to embrace. Every day for weeks and probably months, review this list to keep mindful of what needs to be done.

– Challenge yourself to take small steps in dropping and embracing what is on the list and look for successes.  Success can lead to other successes.

-Be Patient But Be Persistent

Truth #1 – We Are a Participant In Our Distractions

1 (1)All of our distractions flow through us. We are not simply a passer-by, but a direct participant in our distractions.

Because our distractions flow through us, we participate in:

  • what is perceived as a distraction,
  • how that distraction affects us, and
    by how much
  • what we do when distracted
  • what we do to avoid, lessen, or increase distraction
  • where we are distracted
  • when we are distracted
  • how frequently we are distracted.

(This post is part of an on-going series of posts on The Truths of Distraction. At the conclusion of the series all truths will be combined into a video.)

Andeas Goll, Pan and the Nymphs, 1897, oil on canvas


Beware of Biographers

samueljohnsonThe positive side of reading a biography is its potential to inspire.  We see another human working away who finds answers, takes actions, who receives benefits, or overcomes obstacles in some manner we wish to emulate or fate grant us. We want what they have. Maybe not all of it, especially the part about suffering or travails.

Last night I saw the last minutes of a multi-part series on Frank Sinatra. It contained rare photos and films, and voice overs of those who knew him and had spent some time traveling his life’s road. The presentation, of course, made everything about Frank appear fascinating. Even Frank’s downturns and blemishes looked heroic, meaningful, poetic, or at least colorful. The director moved us through a dozen emotions. There was:

-sadness at Frank’s retirement,
-elation at his return out of retirement,
-grief over his passing, and
-rejoicing at his triumph over poverty and non-fame to riches and power in New York, NY.

Fun stuff and a great dopamine rush.

Stepping back from this experience, I can see something hidden in this biography and the many others I have enjoyed. My inner critic detects fodder for self-judgement. How in the world can my life ever stack up to, not so much to Frank Sinatra, but to any creative person?

My inner critic finds my story wanting.  In comparison with biographies, I always come out: smaller, drab, undisciplined, untalented, with darn few crescendo moments to speak of and with no future mourners or current fan base.

What started as a source of inspiration contains the undoing of my creative self-image and project motivation. My inner critic is happy, but I’m not.

Biographies are stacked against us because they are poetry and art and not reality. “Wait a minute, they used real facts and figures. They didn’t make anything up.” That’s true, but poetry and art do something to facts and figures. Nothing wrong with that. That’s the power of the arts.

Biographers sort and choose what best fits their writing goals.
Biographers develop a story or narrative arc.
Biographers look at a person’s life from 10,000 feet.
Biographers usually know how things are going to work out.
Biographers think they can reduce complexity to simple cause and effect
Biographers match a person’s life events and character to transcendent archetypes.

I would leave this discussion as something only I have to deal with, but I hear it between the lines of many creative people. “Enter and be judged,” demands the inner critic. “Speak and explain how you are as worthy as those celebrated in this high stack of biographies.  Justify how your life merits examination and artistic rendering in a Ken Burns series, a David McCullough lengthy read, or a History Channel treatment. Who dare stands before me?”

How to Handle Biographies

1. Get thrilled, enjoy and get inspiration from biographies, but be on guard. Biography feeds two mouths: the inner muse and the inner critic.

2. Remember, people in biographies did not live their lives from the perspective of their biographers. They lived daily life, under the same ground rules that we live. Biographers short-cut, simplify, glorify, amplify, and minimize. We have to take the long road, accept complexity, live with the mundane, and take life at whatever size it presents.

3. Limit the inner critic/judge by disputing its comparisons and think of it as a very ill-informed and belligerent person who is trying to give you advice.  No thanks and move along.

4. Turn your attention from unimportant comparisons back to your work at hand. If you don’t have work at hand, that’s a problem. Get busy and get some. Keep consistently busy.

5. One last time: Don’t compare yourself and your life to a biography.

Video: Resistance – The Deeper Reasons

Underwood_no5This is a Talking Typewriter Production – Which means this video has also been turned into text. So…you can read this video below or you may watch the video itself, above. It’s the same stuff. It’s your choice.

Today, we’re going to concentrate on information from our insight series, series of information and videos on observations and things to know about being stuck and getting unstuck.

The deeper reasons we don’t work mainly come from the unconscious. They come from a place we don’t know much about. They come up in an unexpected sort of way. We don’t know that they’re even happening frequently. They come from more of a visceral place, a place of feelings, a place from our heart that really set us up to either move towards something or in this case we go in sort of the default stance of automatic avoidance.

The thought comes up, an idea comes up about doing our work or an idea, and from our depths from outside of our normal conscious reach, comes an avoidance saying don’t go there or pull away or wait.

We begin with The Comfort Watcher. The Comfort Watcher is something I haven’t heard other people discuss, but I certainly have seen within myself and with other people. The Comfort Watcher I think is there to keep us within our boundaries, boundaries that are familiar to us. It’s constantly observing. Any time we step or start to push those boundaries or step just beyond those boundaries, the Comfort Watcher wakes up and starts to hit us with all sorts of logical arguments of why we can stop going beyond those boundaries or how we can pull back or how we can reassess and come up with new goals that there really isn’t any need to push those boundaries.

Perfect example when outrunning, and these set up the next step sort of goal for myself, nothing too far-reaching but the next logical goal for myself. While I’m doing that frequently, the Comfort Watcher comes alive and starts giving me persuasive arguments of why I’ve done enough for that day or is this safe or aren’t I feeling so uncomfortable or this is so odd, it’s time to stop or I can come back tomorrow or I can just stop and no one is going to know. I don’t have to tell anybody since it was a personal goal. Here’s been so many logical reasons to pullback and to stop. Comfort Watcher can come up and keep us from doing our work.

Another part of us is just ready to come alive is what I call the Inflator. The Inflator immediately reacts as though something is very large, it’s huge, and usually clicks in. I think when we’re looking at something it’s unknown or something we haven’t looked at for a while, suddenly it’s very big, it’s overwhelming, it’s so big. How do we tackle this? It just balloons up faster than we have a chance to really say what’s involved here or what can I bring from my past or what resources can I bring to this to bring it down to size, but it gets blown up and that big can be scary, and we’re going pull back.

Just as the Inflator can make things big in a matter of split-second, the Overwhelmer can do the same thing. Thinking my god there are so many details, where would I begin, there are just too many going that direction, this direction. There’s too much to know. It’s too much to figure out. It’s just too, too much, and we’re overwhelmed. When we’re overwhelmed, the human psyche, the mind does not like that at all. It’s threatening, it’s confusing. Above all, it just splits us apart. We just don’t know where to turn first or next.

At times, there’s something within us that isn’t ready for any movement or any movement beyond what we’ve already done, and when we approach it with a new idea or a new request or a goal, it just cannot start moving and it sounds like hard work even though we may have done it before, even though we may want to do it. The immediate visceral response, this is hard, maybe it’s too hard. I’m not ready to move. I don’t want to move. Moving is beyond my imagination at the moment.

I gave at the office attitude or stance beings, “Look I’ve done everything that people were expecting of me or that I’ve promised people or what I can do within a typical day. I made it to work. I made hundreds of things happen at work. I finished up. I’ve done this and this. Day is over. The day is finished.” Now, that is a personal contract. It’s not unusual, but we make sort of unconscious personal contract that may say, “You know once dinner is done, that’s it folks. Nothing more is going to happen” or some other line of demarcation that we have established saying, “Nothing happens beyond this point or only things I feel like doing that I’m up for happens beyond this point. Period.”

99% of us 99% of the time will have to change to be able to do our work. We will have to find ways that we are moving at the pace of our work. There’s lots that we can’t rush. Some things are highly complex. We need to change to fit it. If we can’t do that, if we can’t be malleable, then we’re not going to work.

Of course, we need to make some comparisons of how other people have done things, how well other people have done things, how they approach something, but a lot of us get locked into over-comparing that we can’t really get beyond comparing. Sometimes we compare ourselves as beginners against the most masterful people within our field. It’s illogical comparison. We have to get beyond that because self-comparison will slow us down. It’ll be too self referential always referring to ourselves, we can’t be free to open up, to be malleable, to learn about our project, to learn about our field.

We’re always looking over our shoulder or looking out of the corner of our eye of what other people are doing when a lot of the time we have to be here and now and focused on what we’re doing and focused on how we are doing it in the moment. Being locked in comparison doesn’t get us there. It doesn’t keep us focused and usually it keeps us down. It demotivates us. It discourages us.

Most of us want to take on projects we’ve never done before or not really clear to us or of a scale that we’ve never approached before or a frequency of turning out something much faster than we ever have before. We just don’t know all the details. The path is not clear because we haven’t been on the path before. If we don’t like that ambiguity, if it makes us totally uncomfortable, and we don’t like feeling that loss, that out of control, we’re not going to do work. We’re just not going to pick up our project. We’re going to pull away very fast.

Many of us have never followed paths that have not been well defined for us or maybe we’ve been given help or instructions to follow particular path that when we’re not following path that’s been given to us, default is to wander.

Some of us manage our time by chasing only those things that are urgent. The bill is due or is past due or the boss tells us something must be done, so it’s deadlines, it’s deadlines, immediate deadlines or deadlines right on horizon and everything else moves out of the way. Then, we’re going to overlook those things that are quiet, that are in the background. It’s on our list of things to do or within our calling or interest, but they don’t have the same urgency as other things do.

Some of those things that are urgent, maybe not that important but yet they’re ringing a bell saying pay attention to me, and we go ahead and get those things done whereas the quiet, important things that are not urgent always gets pushed away, always gets pushed to side. We never get to that sort of work.

It’s easy in the society to be attracted to that which is fast, but unfortunately or the reality is creative work is slow. It is slow to get this work started and to move through it and to understand what we’re doing and to know what the next step is and to really refine our technique. It is slow work compared to so many other things that we can do or we see other people doing or it’s shown to us in entertainment as being exciting and driven and fast.

Some people find that hard to come down to earth to travel at the snail’s pace, but that’s the reality of creative work, and speaking a reality, it’s dirty, you get your hands dirty. It is very finite, it’s very physical, it’s very mental, but it isn’t like the ideas up in the sky. It is one thing after another. It steps its goals. It’s one foot from another.

We need to accept whatever the realities are of work, but that can be hard if we like ideas, if we like staying in the sky, and we like flooding from here to there. To get our work done, there’s no flooding involved. It is focus. It’s concentration. It’s consistency. It’s here on the earth one step after another. If we’re not comfortable with that, we like the sky better than the earth, we’re not going to work.

Something I don’t see discussed in the literature about motivation or helping people be more creative or productive is addressing the issue of depression and anxiety. These are very real conditions and they take a heavy toll.

The idea or the notion that we can be highly creative and highly productive while we’re depressed or anxious, it’s a real challenge. It can be done, but such a heavy burden we carry when we’re facing depression or anxiety or both, so it shouldn’t be a showstopper. We should just recognize as a heavy burden to carry and perhaps and I strongly suggest that we give some energy and some time working with others to help us with our depression. See if there’s something we can do to lessen it, something we can do to contain it so that we have more energy and we’re freer to live a creative life.

We will avoid work, we will pull away from work if we’re simply too depleted to work, and it’s easy place to get into where we’re not spending enough time. We don’t really know what relaxation is. We don’t know what it means to recharge or to refresh ourselves, and we just keep going and we just keep going and keep going.

If we don’t know how to recharge or refresh ourselves, we won’t be able to have the replenished amount of energy that we need to be called to projects, to be called to productivity. They just won’t be there.

We all have negative people and negative experiences that we’ve had in the past or we currently have or will have. We have to watch our own negativity however, because negativity carry too far and too long. It starts to make us negative totally, and it closes off doors. We need to have the doors open for hope and for experimentation and for flexibility and for optimism and just being receptive. Those doors have to remain open for us to be drawn to our work and to continue to work.

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Working Daily for Creatives – Part 3 – Cautions and Success Hacks

Underwood_no5This is a Talking Typewriter Production – Which means this video has also been turned into text. So…you can read this video below or you may watch the video itself, above. It’s the same stuff. It’s your choice.

Hi, this is Gary Goodwin, founder of The Stuck Creative. Welcome to Part 3: The Daily Appointment. Part 1 emphasized the why. Why do you want to work daily and the power that comes out of that. Part 2 laid out the secrets of how to set up, how to build your own daily appointment for work.

The first caution comes from sliding your appointment. Instead of knocking it out when you had scheduled, you decide to go ahead and move it later in the day or at least that’s what you think you will be doing. The caution here is if you don’t reappoint your appointment, the odds are you will continually push it forward, push it forward, and when the end of the day comes around, you will not have achieved your ten or fifteen or twenty minute work session. The secret is as soon as you know you can’t make your regular appointment, think through and visualize when and where you will be doing that appointment later in the day. Make it clear in your mind.

Another caution is when we know we’re going to have to take a break from our daily appointments, I’m talking about several days or longer, the last day that you’re working, take a moment or two and clearly mark it down or put it in your mind when you can pick up your daily appointments again. If we don’t do that, a lot of time can go by before we remember or before we jump back in to where we had been. A week can go by, two weeks, months can go by. All it takes is taking a moment and say, “Okay. I’m stopping here on April 15. I will be able to pick it up realistically again on April 20.” I put that on my calendar. I put reminders around the house or at work or wherever so I actually pick it up again.

The following are success hacks. In other words, how to increase the likelihood and success rates of getting to your daily appointment and getting through it. Some of them pertain to what to do before your appointment, a couple are about what to do within your appointment, and then a little bit about what to do after your daily appointment.

Before your daily appointment, build in a little bit of transition time. It doesn’t have to be a formal transition time, but it certainly should be a mental preparation time. The transition is that buffer ground or that space where you collect your thoughts, you let go what you’d been working on a few minutes earlier, and you anticipate what’s coming up next.

Also, mentally, expect resistance. That part of us that says, “I just don’t want to work. I don’t want to make the switch. I’ll just skip today, pick it up tomorrow.” Expect that. That’s normal. There’s nothing wrong with what you’re working on or the status of how the project’s going. There’s nothing wrong with you. This is just normal. On any given day, we’re going to be faced with three perspectives on our work. One is we’re fired up. We’re ready to go. We’re very enthusiastic. Other days, we’re going to feel resistance, lots of reasons are going to come to mind not to go ahead and do our work. Some days are just going to be neutral. Even feeling neutral has its problems because some people make the calculation if they’re feeling neutral about their project, then there’s something wrong with their progress. There’s something wrong with what they’re working on. It’s not true. Neutral’s fine. We should expect neutral or resistance days or very positive days. Whatever happens, whatever our sort of inner weather is, we should pursue and keep that ten, fifteen, twenty, twenty-five minute work period. Keep to our appointments.

Lastly, this could be part of the transition. We may need to take a little bit of time to refresh ourselves. There may be something like a few moments going outside, a cup of coffee. Whatever it takes, build that in a few minutes or half an hour ahead of your appointment so you can catch your breath, so you can revitalize yourself before your appointment.

If you go to, you’re going to find a tool there called the Tomato Timer. Sometimes it’s called the Pomodoro Technique. It’s a way to focus and concentrate and keep you in the room, keep you focused on your project and you’ll have to go there to learn a little bit more about it, but it’s a very valuable tool. It has helped lots of people.

Now, keeping score may not be the first thing that comes to mind that you want to do, but it is tremendously important. Ultimately, what we’re doing here is developing a habit. We have to look at consistency and the quality of our daily appointment. The consistency is keeping track and it can be very informal on a calendar, on a notepad, or there are apps for this. It’s keeping track of how many days did you make it to your daily appointment. Simply mark off on the calendar the days you make it. Take notice about the gaps in the calendar. Just see if you can keep a chain going of days that you’ve made it to your appointment.

The second scoring is around completeness of our work session. Some days we’re going to be able to complete 100% of our work session. No problems. Other days, we’ll find ourselves only able to complete 50% or 25% or whatever percentage less than 100%. We’re building a habit with our daily appointment so we should see any percentage that we’re able to complete, especially in the early part of this habit building as a positive experience and a positive accomplishment. I want to get away from the polar thinking of either we complete it at 100%, which was a success, or anything less than that was a failure. That’s not true. We’re building a habit. Habits need to be built over time and they’re a process. Each process that we can accumulate towards developing the overall habit is positive. Keep a score. This is an informal sort of thing. Here’s an example. You can see that there are various levels of scores. Keep track of that for each day that you work. If all goes well, over time, as the habit becomes stronger and becomes more automatic, you’ll find yourself more frequently than not completing your work session.

That’s it on this tool, The Daily Appointment. Extremely valuable. I hope you go to The Stuck Creative because there are more tools there, more resources, and I wish you all the success of working daily. This is Gary Goodwin, founder of The Stuck Creative.

Lastly, for more resources about getting unstuck and getting started and moving forward, please come over to my blog site There, you’re going to find additional tips, you’re going to find links to other recordings and related materials and also links to recommended resources. I’ll see you over

Working Daily for Creatives – Part 2 – The Science of Appointments

Underwood_no5This is a Talking Typewriter Production – Which means this blog post has also been turned into a video. So…you can read this post below or you may watch the video version at YouTube, above. It’s the same stuff. It’s your choice.

Welcome to part two of Working Daily for Creatives. Again if you were in part one, or if this is your first stop here on this whole idea of working daily, believe me I know what you’re thinking and you’re feeling. There is no way I can work daily. Well, there are ways to do that and you can.

For simplicity sake I call this whole thing about consistent daily work, I call it the daily appointment. Fortunately, there has been research around how do people follow through on their intentions. They have something that they want to do, what separates one group of people, the ones can actually get it done versus another group. It seems to boil down to this, the successful group came up with a simple checklist, they make decisions around that checklist, once they’ve formed it they just follow it on a daily basis.

The unsuccessful group doesn’t really specify where, or how, or what, or when they want to follow through so everything just slides, it doesn’t get done.

The Steps to Building Your Appointment

Let’s go through the steps of what you need to know to make one of these checklists, to help you get to your daily appointment, and get through your daily appointment.

Step #1: Figure out your When
The first item on the checklist is, when are you going to have your daily appointment. We talked about working short, but specify during your day the best day or best times to work that short time period, ten, fifteen, twenty, twenty-five minutes. Think that through, when’s the best time for you. Probably come up with a plan B if the first time doesn’t work you know what the fallback position is. That’s item number one on your checklist for the daily appointment.

Step #2: Figure out your Where
Item number two for your checklist is where. We talked about having a lot of flexibility about being able to work in different locations. Go ahead and pre-specify where you’ll likely be doing your work, and again come up with a plan B. Where will you be when you have that appointment at your specified time. It’s okay to visualize again a plan B of where you will be when that time comes around.

Step #3: Figure out your General What
The third item on the checklist is going to vary from day to day, is what will you be doing at that time and in that location. Now you can start off first specifying it in a general sense what sort of work. I’ll turn to writers, it would be maybe a certain level of productivity say shooting for one hundred words during that work session. It would be about a particular topic, but as you get into that work you will be able to specify a day or two ahead of where you need to be and what you need to do that next day, or the day after then. Get that clear in your mind so you know when you sit down in that location at that time you’ll know the subject matter, but what specifically are you going to be tackling during that work session.

That’s it for Part 2 of Working Daily for Creatives.  See you at Part 3, Cautions and Success Hacks.

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