Today’s guest post is from Michelle Ward, aka The When I Grow Up Coach, who has worked with over 100
creative types to help them with their career goals.
Are you a Renaissance soul? To find out, answer the following questions:
- Do you find a lot of different things interesting/worthwhile?
- Do you have a tough time choosing just one thing to work on?
- After a few weeks working on one piece, do you get the itch to move on?
If you answered yes to at least 2 of these questions, it doesn’t mean that you’re flaky, unfocused, or are bound for failure. You’re, instead, a Renaissance Soul—like about 90% of the other creative types I talk with and coach!
It simply means that, as described here, you have too many passions/interests to pick just one—just like Michelangelo and DaVinci! Not bad guys to compare yourself to.
You may not believe me, but being a Renaissance Soul ain’t a curse. I know—you’ve been told that you need to Finish What You Start or Pick Your Niche in order to be a successful writer, but to that I say: Hooey!
It’s still possible to have a kick-ass career—and even be known as an expert—without feeling like you have to put yourself in a box. Here’s how:
Determine Ideal Conditions for Your Renaissance Soul
I have a client who discovered that her Renaissance Soul is happiest immersing herself in one project until completion, but only if that project has an end date no more than 3 months in the future—and she knows in advance the next project to switch to. Because of those quarterly goals, she knows she’ll complete 4 projects every year, which is a high (and motivating/exciting!) number for her.
Personally, I enjoy having my hands in 2 or 3 projects at a time, working on them each for about an hour a day or longer (when inspiration strikes). If I had to work on 1 project continuously until it’s done, I might go insane.
To figure out how you work best, ask yourself:
- How long can I work on something until I get antsy?
- How would I react if I was told that I had to work on 1 thing until it gets done?
- What about 2 things? 3 things? 4 things? Find your optimal number.
- Where do you feel the biggest sense of accomplishment/happiness/growth: starting a project, working on it, or finishing it? When you have the answer, do some brainstorming as to what type of structure will let you live in that place the longest.
I had a client who started projects to prove to herself that she could do it, but once she got to that place (“Knitting a scarf is so easy! I can so do this!”), she abandoned the project and made herself feel guilty in the process. Once I asked her to get her half-finished projects out of her sight, her Guilty Vampire left her alone. She even finished the next project she started by ensuring it was challenging at the start and that it had a purpose (to give the scarf to her sister as a birthday gift) until the end. She’s also able to start and abandon projects guilt-free, to scratch that I Can Do It itch anytime she wants.
Do a Brain Dump RIGHT NOW
Set the timer for 3 minutes right now, and do a big brain dump of everything that’s buzzing in your head that you wanna write about. Once they’re all there, prioritize them. If you don’t know where to start, then rate them by excitement from 1 (“meh”) to 10 (“THIS IS AMAZEBALLS!”). Then, rank them based on the excitement number. If there are any ties, then go by which project feels easiest. Yes, easiest.
How to Get Unstuck
Working from the optimal place you discovered above, you can ask yourself the following if you find yourself getting stuck:
- Why do I want to change directions?
- What am I afraid of?
- Is this something I still want to explore? If so, how much time/energy do I want to give it?
- Do I want to revisit this at another point in time? If so, mark a date in your calendar a month from now and switch gears. Then, on that date, reassess again how you’d work best and don’t feel guilty about taking that project entirely off your plate.
- What’s the one consistent thing that comes up in your writing no matter what? Is it your infectious energy, your eternal optimism, your sarcastic streak, your descriptive prose? Dig deep (or go directly to the report cards, the feedback from teachers and classmates, and/or the blog comments) and see what’s consistent. Now, make sure you bring that strength into whatever you write.
- What can you be counted on to provide? Instead of focusing on the actual genre or project, focus instead on the traits that come with it and make yourself known by your uniquity. Then, it won’t matter if you’re writing children’s books and short stories—the fact that you’re the writer will be apparent no matter the format.
So forget the stress of becoming boxing yourself in, or having to write one piece until it’s done or you’re torturing yourself (whatever comes first).
Instead, focus on learning how you’re most productive, enjoying what you do and using your specialness as a Renaissance Soul to share your awesome writing with the world!
Michelle Ward is a certified life coach by the International Coach Academy and a musical theater actress with her BFA from NYU/Tisch. She can be found coachin’, bloggin’ and givin’ away free stuff at whenigrowupcoach.com, and encouraging everyone to claim their uniquity at The Declaration of You.