1. Lower your expectations
To start with, I have to say that there is no such thing as writer’s block. What happens is we impose massively high standards on ourselves calculated on previous experiences.
This means that we are more inclined to push ourselves to write 2000 amazing words per day rather than 200 crappy words that may lead to a 1000 words kraken.
After we don’t write the 2000 words, we feel bad and hate ourselves leading to even more burnout that prevents us from being creatively at our peak.
This fuels a vicious cycle of high expectations, then self-hatred, then even higher expectations we cannot live up to, so eventually, we lower them and feel defeated and hate ourselves even more.
This is poison. What should happen instead is: we calculate the height of our expectations based on the vision we have projected in something like 20–30 years. When you think seriously about wanting to become an amazing and well-known artist, the thought of romanticizing it becomes useless.
You push yourself to find out more about the most effective process that conveys greatness and find the minimum you can do to be able to sustain your dream.
Something like an article per week or five drawings per week leads to numbers like 48 articles per year (which can be morphed easily in a book) and 240 pieces of original art which could easily fill your Society6 shop and give you tons of materials for marketing.
When you think like this, you stop searching for the highest expectation you could have to “push your limits” and search for the smallest step you could incrementally take so that you create momentum. Setting low expectations facilitates momentum and helps your incremental growth.
2. Eliminate distractions
This advice is overrated, overly given and drastically misinterpreted. People have an aversion to change. If you’ve been doing a bunch of bad habits for the past 3–5 years, there is little chance that you will welcome the “elimination” of your distractions with a big smile on the face.
What you should do instead is think in terms of Archimedes’ communicating vessels. If your hours are the vessels, and you fill a few of them with junk activities, it will balance the entire day and make you feel miserable and drained.
However, if you start filling the hours with good habits, it will have similar results, getting rid of the need to “eliminate” the bad habits and allow you to feel better about your day, which will build momentum and make you feel more excited about cultivating good habits.
Note: this is not “replacement” of bad habits, but simply short-circuiting your day to accommodate more good instead of bad.
3. Stop micro-managing your time
Most of us live in a perpetual state of giving away our time to everything that demands it. this leaves very little room for both creative work and cultivation of good habits. If your vision is to be creatively free and amazing, you need to organize your days in a way that will facilitate the vision.
Robert Green says in The 33 Strategies of War: “Grand strategy is the art of looking beyond the present battle and calculating ahead. Focus on your ultimate goal and plot to reach it.”
Take your vision, deconstruct it and plot small incremental steps to reach it. Then simply discard and/ or ignore anything that is not congruent with that. This doesn’t mean don’t have friends or don’t call your parents. It means: shift your attention.
I would say that the vast majority of people use their attention on micro-managing stuff that is not helpful for their vision: they micro-manage their employers, their family, their partner, their friends, their Instagram account, their food. This is childish nonsense.
When you have a grand strategy, you shift your vision to managing the big, slow, important aspects of your existence, rather than creating perpetually small schedules and plans to accommodate other people’s expectations of you.
This gives you more leverage and power to control your own time and use it to put out more creative work and devise better strategies because you have less cognitive load.
4. Experiment with everything
This step is basically composed of two smaller steps:
a) Take notes on any piece of useful information you consume- be it books, podcasts, courses or seminars, and then
b) Apply everything regardless of how you think about them
The fact of the matter is: the biggest percentage of our thoughts are put there by people who want us to conform to their reality.
You cannot trust what you think/ feel about a particular media tactic for example because there is a high chance that it was put there by others to limit you, and by identifying with your thoughts, you limit yourself, and in turn, the quality and boldness of your creative work.
By cleaning the slate with everything and giving anything a chance to play with, you become more experienced, refined and closer to the truth than the majority of people. Great artists know this and play with this idea until exhaustion.
Use the 4 steps to create more amazing work, work that delivers and matters, rather than conform to others.