What it Takes to be a Creative Success

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I started the year with a bang, boldly announcing my intent to be a creative success in January and writing:

‘I’m making 2012 the year of the book.

Well, actually it was more of a whimper. The intention was there but I buried the line in the middle of Who else wants to write a book?  just in case I failed to deliver.

Like most of us I want to write a book, and not just an educational book like Successful Blogging in 12 Simple Steps which I’ve already done. I have a burning, long held desire to write a creative travel memoir about my journey and my travels.

I got started on the project too. I’ve called the book Naked Travel Stories, I’ve shared a few stories on my travel blog Get In the Hot Spot and I’ve even pitched the book live in front of fifty people to a couple of publishers and an agent.

That was scary because according to Seth Godin in Linchpin: Are you indispensible? How to drive your career and create a remarkable future:

“Public speaking is one of the worst things the lizard brain can imagine.”

But I did it. You can see the video here.

There’s only one small problem. I haven’t written the book.

On Shipping and the Fear of Failure

I’m having trouble shipping my book. I wanted to finish it by the end of they year but come September I hadn’t even started the book because I allowed myself to become a victim of my own success and got side-tracked.

Throughout 2012 I’ve been bombarded with invites on international and local press trips and I said yes. Visiting places like Japan, Canada and Australia’s outback is fabulous but those travel opportunities gave me the perfect excuse to procrastinate and not write my book.as then

Check out the photo above. That’s me on a press trip, beavering away to promote someone else’s brand while carefully avoiding bringing my own creative dreams to life.

Why? Because I am terrified of shipping this book. Not of writing it. I am terrified of finishing the book and showing it to people. Never mind actually asking them to buy it. But most of all I’m terrified that no one will buy it because then I will have failed. I will have wasted my time. And yours too.

After my knee jerk reaction about how I don’t want to be a linchpin I started reading Seth Godin’s book Linchpin in the traditional way (from front to back) and it spoke to me. Here are some quotes on shipping from the book:

“shipping becomes part of the art and shipping makes it work.”

“The only purpose of starting is to finish.”

I’ve learnt the hard way how not to deal with rejection and I know from bitter experience that as you get close to finishing your project you should be careful who you share it with.

But ultimately you do need to finish it, ship it and then refine it. Above all we need to slay our inner perfectionist and avoid refining, refining, and re-refining our writing behind closed doors because then we run the risk that no one else will ever see our creation, out work of art.

In Linchpin Godin talks about the lizard brain. It just wants us to be safe. It resists us shipping because there is a real danger that our book or product will fail. It resists for the same reason my parents counselled me not be be a writer – because it was competitive, risky and there was a high chance I would fail.

Linchpin speaks of a chasm between the part of us that wants to be safe and the part that wants to share our ideas. I can feel this conflict in me and it’s eating me up. I’m a quiet, shy person. I like to hide. But The Naked Travel Stories will put me on show.

I’m already uncomfortable with how much I am on show here and on my travel blog. I’m vulnerable and over-sensitive. I want to dodge bullets, get out of sight again and hide.

But I’m fighting that instinct and I’m determined to overcome it. The show must go on.

I’ve written before about the importance of failing. I have failed many times and chronicled those failures to help you learn to fail and bounce back from rejection too, so that ultimately we can succeed. But still each time the possibility of failure looms in my writing, this thing I hold dearest, I try to shirk it. Godin writes:

“Going out of your way to find uncomfortable situations isn’t natural, but it’s essential.”

I try to do something that scares me every day and urge people to give fear the finger. I’d bungee jumped, traveled and hitch-hiked alone and shared my home with scorpions but this book is a big one. It’s scarier than anything else.

Distractions and Procrastination Tools are Everywhere

Being self-employed and working in Internet marketing is hard. The temptation to tweet and surf the net is there all the time and it often wins.

“The Internet is crack cocaine for the resistance.”

“This freedom is a pox, because it’s an opening for the resistance. Freedom like this makes it easy to hide, easy to find excuses, easy to do very little.”

So here I am mustering all my courage and energy, determined not to let my behaviour be driven by fear because:

“As every successful person will tell you, the ideas aren’t the hard part. It’s shipping that’s difficult.”

“The closer you get to surfacing and then defeating the resistance, the harder it will fight you off.”

So here I am rereading all these quotes I wrote down many moons ago and sharing them with you in case you too are putting off doing something important:

“Don’t let the lizard brain win.”

“The first step is to write down the due date. Post it on the wall. It’s real. You will ship on this date, done or not.”

“The performer seeks the people who choose to stop and watch and interact and ultimately donate. Great work is not created for everyone, if it were it would be average work.”

The Rocky Road to Creative Success

Success is getting the book finished. I don’t need to ship it to you or anyone else but I do need to ship it to myself.

So I’ve pulled my finger out and got started. I have 8,806 words in my manuscript so far after five days work. It’s growing slowly because I can’t work on it every day but it is growing. I still have time to complete that all important first draft before the year is out and I’m going full speed ahead.

It’s much easier to be passive but we need to give free reign to our passion if we want to feel fulfilled.

It takes guts of steel, single-minded determination and blinding passion to be a creative success. But most of all being a creative success means acknowledging the possibility of failure and completing our creations anyway.

Don’t give up on your dreams. There are still eight weeks left in the year – let’s finish strong and thenand end 2012 with a bang.

Do you have any unfinished business for 2012?

hat are you going to do with the last eight weeks of t
he year that will make a difference to you either creatively, personally or professionally? Leave a comment below to show your commitment to being a creative success and completing your project.

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