Thoughts on creative work

Creative work encompasses endeavors that have the potential to both fail and improve. It begins with the desire to bring about change.

Many individuals yearn for someone else to dictate their path, leading them to feel trapped and discontented. The fear of potential failure haunts them, reminiscent of the embarrassment felt in childhood when they misunderstood something and faced ridicule from peers and teachers. Such experiences can have long-lasting effects.

However, true creativity cannot thrive within the confines of waiting for instructions. It demands a fearless dance with the possibility of failure. This courage is essential to the creative process. If you can’t acknowledge that your endeavor could fall flat, it’s probably not “creative work.”

I consider creative work to carry with it these characteristics consistently:

  • Creative work involves the transformative power of change.
  • Relying on external guidance can stifle true creativity (yet true creative collaboration can be powerful).
  • Fear of failure stems from past negative experiences, impacting self-confidence.
  • Waiting for instructions hampers the creative spirit.
  • Embracing the dance with fear is crucial for creative work.

Creative work requires taking risks and accepting that not everything will succeed. By embracing the dance with fear, we unleash our true creative potential.

Overcoming writer’s block

Writer’s block doesn’t exist. We often just fear embracing our bad ideas.

We all have bad ideas, but a few hidden gems may emerge amidst those. Yet, we hesitate to explore and develop them, fearing the emotional labor it demands. Past experiences of embarrassment and hurt reinforce our reluctance to put ourselves out there.

So, what’s the solution?

Recognize that creativity involves venturing into uncharted territory, where failure is a possibility, but so is improvement. Embrace the discomfort of sharing even your flawed ideas. Practice expressing your creativity and become comfortable with vulnerability.

In summary:

  • Writer’s block is a misperception, the fear of embracing imperfect ideas.
  • Everyone has bad ideas, but within them lie potential hidden gems.
  • Emotional labor is required to develop ideas, which may deter us.
  • Past negative experiences can reinforce our reluctance to share.
  • Creativity involves exploring uncharted territory with the potential for failure and improvement.
  • Embrace discomfort and vulnerability with practice sharing your flawed ideas.

Remember, the process of revision and refinement is essential, both in writing and in shaping our thoughts.

The Importance of Shipping: Lessons from a Commercial Greenhouse Manager

My day job is that of a shipping manager at a commercial greenhouse.

Shipping season is a grueling four to six-week sprint for commercial greenhouse industry employees. Flowers must be shipped at specific times every day, multiple times per day, six days a week, requiring constant readiness.

This process has taught me valuable lessons about putting creative work into the world because that’s what I do in the context of getting communication right.

Here are a few parallels and notes I continue to return to when thinking about my role as a greenhouse shipping manager and a freelance writer.

Shipping refers to overcoming fears, uncertainties, and self-doubt to complete and get a project into the world. It’s an essential element in achieving success. By shipping your work — whether it’s flowers or writing — you confront your resistance and learn from the feedback you receive. This enables you to iterate, improve, and ultimately make a more significant impact in your field.

The value of shipping lies in its role as a catalyst for growth and learning. When you ship, you open yourself to both the appreciation and the criticism of others, providing you with a new perspective on your work.

As a result, shipping contributes to your development as an individual. It helps you better serve your people professionally and personally by consistently providing them with valuable, thought-provoking, and quality work.

Many people fall into the trap of waiting for perfection, but that’s a form of hiding. I champion the notion that shipping and refining along the way is better. Waiting for perfection can lead to never getting your work out there and missing out on valuable opportunities for growth and feedback.

So, whether I manage a commercial greenhouse or pursue the creative work that comes with freelance writing, I can never ignore the importance of shipping.

I can never let fear or self-doubt hold me back. I can only embrace the process of iteration and improvement and have faith that it will help me significantly impact the field I serve.

​Taking the plunge versus wading in

Sometimes, taking a considerable risk can be intimidating and may not be the best way to go about your work.

People use the phrase, “Take the plunge.” Let’s make the case for wading in instead of plunging. Simply start small and finish what you begin. When you commit to wading, you can build momentum, doing bigger and better things each time. Taking a small step forward is better than doing nothing at all. And it’s better than taking the plunge but failing or quitting. Take the plunge into wading and begin to make progress.

You don’t have to take the plunge. Start small, make progress, and build momentum.

Create connection

The people who are whipping out their smartphones… They’re not just avoiding boredom, they’re searching — not only for information, entertainment, or updates. They are searching for a feeling of connection. It reminds me of how the person across from me wants to feel when we arrive belly to belly. With so much content on the web, it’s a reminder that the best content makes people feel connected.

Specificity rules

Using “To Whom It May Concern” in a letter differs from addressing someone specific. I will write to a person, not a department head, and create content as if addressing a human with a name, not a general demographic.

When I write content, I will think of them by name and consider them individuals, which helps me understand their needs, preferences, and interests. By tailoring content to one specific person, I will create personalized and engaging messages that lead to more effective communication.

After all, excellent communication is about arriving at the intended outcome, nothing else.

Writing to unlock discovery

In life, it’s not just about what you know but also about what you don’t know you don’t know. The hidden possibilities, the undiscovered talents, the unexplored paths. It’s about the music in the silence and the epiphanies that come from instinct.

Sometimes, the only way to truly see is by being blind, allowing dreams to rise from the depths of our subconscious. And sometimes, by giving up, we gain a new perspective.

Writing can also be a powerful tool for discovery. As you put pen to paper, you may find yourself renewing your covenant with the mysterious and enigmatic. Embrace the furtive pen as it saunters across the empty page, allowing the dark, brimming mist to give way to daylight and reveal its secrets.

So, don’t just focus on what you know. Embrace the mystery and the unknown, and let your instincts guide you toward discoveries. Who knows what you might find?

100 hour rule

I heard this from the Internet… Do you think this is true?

If you spend 18 minutes a day, every day, for a year in any discipline, i.e., soccer, piano, writing, etc., which equals 100 hours in a year, you will be better than 95% of the world in that discipline. It’s the consistent practice of whatever you do that can make you great. So it pays to become highly aware of what you’re practicing.

I do if you’re practicing the right thing in the right way.

Discipline to prospect

I see a crash coming because I have not consistently prospected for clients to fill my pipeline. Sure, I have a few clients now, but what about later?

Prospecting is essential for building a successful freelance business, and waiting until all work is gone before prospecting leads to an inconsistent workflow. This is a challenging way to have a freelancing business. The key, I am discovering, is to commit to prospecting every day instead of only focusing on doing the actual work assigned by the clients. Right now, I’m working IN my business but not spending enough time working ON it. I must do both.

Slowly, drip by drip, I can become a category of one rather than one of many and establish a reputation. This will take time. This involves doing exceptional, even “quirky” work that stands out as mine. I’m not there yet. But the first step towards achieving this is developing the discipline to prospect every day, and that offers me a path to narrow into smaller markets to do work that is not seen as a commodity.

I can build a sustainable and fulfilling freelance career by doing these things. Until then, I keep my day job.

More thoughts on freelancing

When I started my freelance writing journey seven months ago, I believed that taking on any work was essential, even if it didn’t align with the vision I had set forth for myself. I just wanted to start and get paid. After gaining some experience and a few clients, I’ve realized that working with fewer companies that value my work and allow me to improve my skills is more meaningful and sustainable.

Instead of pursuing the largest possible customer base, I’m now looking to narrow my focus to a smaller but sustainable market. My goal is to work with a handful of companies and a few people at each and keep busy with work that aligns with my professional and personal growth goals. This might be a slower approach, but it will deliver me where I want to be in the mid-term.

Another thing – I’ve recognized the importance of prospecting to keep a consistent workflow. Waiting for all work to be gone before seeking new clients is challenging and unpredictable. Not to mention a hard way to live. To establish a reputation and become a category of one, instead of just another person doing commodity work, I need to do exceptional work that stands out as mine. That means developing the discipline to prospect daily and investing time to work ON my business, not just IN.

I’m aware that building a sustainable and fulfilling freelance career will take time. Grateful for the day job, which I’ll continue while implementing these strategies. I’m confident that this refined approach will take me closer to my goals.