Wednesday, October 16, 2013

6 Tips to Control Your Creativity from Taking Over Your Life By Zoe M. McCarthy


If you're like me, you can become obsessed with writing. Always thinking, always planning, spending as much time in front of the computer as possible. I asked Zoe McCarthy to give her advice on controlling those urges so we can maintain a life outside the writing world. -- Sandy

Zoe: Hello. My name is Zoe. I’m a creativity junky. If you’re like me, your compulsive desire to create threatens your sleep, family and spiritual living, housework, and other responsibilities.

Know that once a creativity junky, always a creativity junky. But try theses 6 tips to help you know when to free your imagination to fly and when to rein it in.

1. Treat your writing like an outside-the-home job. I’m a full-time writer. On weekdays, I rise at 5 AM and start my day in Bible study and intercessory prayer, which prepares me for a good day. Around 9 AM, after breakfast and cleanup, I climb the steps to my office. I take care of non-creative tasks first, and then until 6 PM, I unleash my creativity to work on stories, blogs, and ministries. Ahhh.

2. Carry with you something to write on at all times. Creative ideas pop into my head while I pray, eat, work around the house, and even while I dream. I want to pursue an idea NOW. I can often control that urge by writing the idea down on my notebook or iPad. In effect, it’s scheduled, and I can relax.

3. Avoid activities at bedtime that tempt your creativity. I’m learning it’s dangerous to work on a scene or blog before going to sleep. When the lights go out, I’ll rework the content in my mind for hours. So, to stop ideas from streaming, I read a little of a book that’s far from a page-turner. Or I play a boring solitaire game on my iPad.

4. Plan moments throughout your day to re-ground you in non-creative living. For me, God is my guide, my counselor, and my Lord. Sometimes, I get wrapped up in my creative work and forget that. So I schedule another time with the Lord, using a devotional after lunch. Also, I plan tasks that include exercise for my breaks from writing.

5. Train yourself to keep certain days for family time and doing things other than creative work. This tip is the most difficult for me. It’s hard to shut down the creative frenzy for long periods. However, I’m working on the habit of taking off weekends. Also, I attend a Bible study Wednesday mornings. I schedule appointments, writing catch-up, or free time for Wednesday afternoons.

6. Do creative activities with others. My husband and I have worked together on activities, such as designing our house, creating a garden pond, and planning creative activities for Sunday school children. My creative nature loves and feeds on such times with my husband. And, I enjoy playing make-believe with my grandchildren.

Making habits of these tips will help round out your life.


What has worked for you to prevent your creative work from taking over your life?

~~~

A full-time writer, Zoe M. McCarthy spins contemporary Christian romances and short stories with splashes of humor. A self-publisher of two books of contemporary Christian short stories, Zoe has also published short stories with Christian Fiction Online Magazine. She is represented by Hartline Literary Agency and currently has a novel under contract, Calculated Risk. She lives with her husband in the Blue Ridge Mountains in Virginia.

Zoe’s blog, Creative in Everything, (http://zoemmccarthyblog.wordpress.com) gives quotes, tips, and examples of how people can creatively engage others in their home, workplace, and volunteer activities. You can connect with Zoe on her Facebook Author Page: http://www.facebook.com/ZoeMMcCarthyAuthor and through Twitter https//twitter.com/zoemmccarthy





14 comments:

  1. 4 & 5 especially are ones I need to work on! It IS hard to shut-off. Right now I'm homeschooling my kiddos, and trying to remember that school hours are theirs is one REALLY tough one for me:)

    BTW - LOVE that cover - when does it come out?

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    1. Susan, it is hard to shut off the creativity. As I told another author, it's like being lost in the woods. I don't have a release date on Calculated Risk yet. Thanks for asking.

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  2. Excellent suggestions. Working from home can be difficult, and your suggestion for treating it like an outside job is so important. Can't wait for your book to be out.

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    1. Vie, when I worked in an office I wouldn’t have taken vacation time to do the things I’m tempted to do working from home.

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  3. Oh Zoe, we visited the Blue Ridge mountains not long ago and how lucky you are! Beautiful area. However...we just got back from the Canadian Rockies and are now vacationing in Vail...the Rockies are pretty awesome LOL.

    I have to work harder at balancing my life. One thing that has helped is volunteering at the local horse rescue. It's great physical activity and I've made wonderful new friends outside of the "writing world." And horses and horse care are wonderful adjuncts to the type of fiction I write, western romance.

    Still, I have a loooooong way to go to be the kind of person and writer I need to be LOL.

    Enjoyed the post and getting to know you better. xo

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    1. A horse rescue volunteer. How cool is that, Tanya! We have one in the area in which I live. Since I no longer have a horse, I've thought off and on about volunteering. Even though it gets you away from the "office," it gives you an opportunity to refresh your mind and, at the same time, fill it with incidences you might use later.

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    2. Sandra, it has been such a awesome activity for me. The horses all have a sad story, so it's awesome to see them healthy and happy and giving kisses. I've learned how to be a feeder...each horse has a specific diet...and I just love my afternoons there. I also teach the orientation class once a month...used to be a high schoo. Teacher, so it's a good fit.

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    3. Tanya, the Rockies took my breath away the first time I saw them. My husband would love to have a horse, but we bought canoes instead. Paddling down the New River is a good exercise break.

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  4. So glad you enjoy it, Tanya. Sounds like, as a former teacher, you have a great deal of patience with them.

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  5. Awesome tips, Zoe! I have the most trouble with #1 and #3, for sure. It's so easy to grab my laptop and work during the evenings if I didn't accomplish all I'd hoped to during the day. Thanks for sharing!!

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    1. Dora, my Macbook Air is so thin and light I could almost carry it around on my belt like a cell. I haven't sat at my desktop in ages.

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  6. I'm with you on number 2! I usually watch a favorite TV show (taped) before going to bed to help shut my brain down. Otherwise, I can be awake for hours working on scenes in my head.

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    1. Dawn, I do the same, but sometimes the TV shows give me ideas and then I’m in trouble.

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  7. I work full-time, so set hours to write are hard to come by. I try to get an hour in the morning and a couple of hours 3 days per week. It makes for a lot of creative frustration.

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