If you don’t know him, he’s a syndicated illustrator/comic who also does some amazing graphic recording. (He was also a speaker at the very first Creative Freelancer Conference.)
As I watched Lloyd struggle (which he makes seem like a weekly occurrence, save for some magic wand times when he has a brilliant idea, but also gets it done early!), I thought, “How do we get into our grooves and stay there long enough to produce?”
For Lloyd, he has a hard deadline, goes public and says that, in his 20 years of doing this work, he just trusts it will get done.
Donovan Beery answered with: surrounding yourself with things that will help you get in the right mood. Sometimes it’s something that makes you comfortable (like my shelf of Superman action figures; they remind me of my childhood and that I can do the same thing but make it mine. Oh, and it reminds me that we can all fly, but have to remember how.), inspires you (good work, funny comedy, and the color orange) or is the right color (orange, again, it’s recent, tomorrow it will be yellow.) If I get stuck, I take a step back and ask, “What is it I’m trying to do here?” I look at the problem I’m trying to solve (the bigger vision) not the solution (task at hand). Re-examining the problem might help me find a better solution. That or take an early lunch because sometimes you just have to get out of the office.
Amy Ahlers: If I feel alack of mojo or motivation–it’s my sign that there’s something else going on, something deeper. When I’m triggered to snack or watch reality TV–there’s usually a bigger signal going on that I need to pay attention to. Maybe what’s at hand is not the right project or I haven’t had a day off in 4 weeks. I may just need to PAUSE and calibrate. I recalibrate by taking time off, taking a bath, exercising and meditating. There’s also that place when something is driving me totally crazy and I have to just kick my own butt and say, “Suck it up! It’s not all teddy bears and roses! I guess I’m going to learn this skill and get this sucker done in service to my bigger vision.” It’s not taking one for the team–it’s about taking one for the greater vision.
Luke Mysse: It’s been so long since I’ve been in a groove! It’s not so much about getting into a groove for me, but about staying in it. I like to get a few quick wins first. When I set up my day, I set up a few small tasks to get some momentum. Then, I turn off the distractions. I go to Peet’s coffee to work b/c I only get an hour of internet to download and interact. That lets me get some concentrative time to work. Having a specific set of tasks is really important as opposed to having one big long list, which can be overwhelming and paralyzing. Lately, I slipped into an old, old habit of waiting until stuff piles up. I call it Hulking Out–where you have to get superhuman and get several weeks of work done in a few days. I crash hard at the end, but it all gets done. There is some satisfaction in breaking down the list when you have 10 things to do. Choose three for today and celebrate if you get into tomorrow’s list. I have a dedicated day for work only, no Facebook, no Twitter and just punching things off my list. I make a separate Tolerance List with only things that really, really are bugging me. I pick one off per week. It’s incredible how much energy we spend thinking about those pesky Tolerance List items.
Samantha Bennett: A “should” means no. When I feel pressured to keep something going, it’s a good time for me to take a nap. Being freaked out is not a good place to create from. Telling someone I’ll do something helps, too. It may be a maturity thing, but I truly trust the creative process. When it feels like nothing is really happening, that’s where it’s really ON. Quiet is useful; being out there and in motion is helpful, too. When I hear myself ruminating, “What’s gonna happen, what’s gonna happen?” that’s usually a sign that I need to rest more. My shoe-in groove activity is a nice long Sunday morning talk with my hubby or a day out of town to a favorite small city nearby. It’s so much easier to keep my mojo going when we love what we do. My tough (self-) love statement is, “Okay, Princess, knock it off!” Also, going to bed with a bowl of popcorn & 900 page historical novel helps.
For me, I get my groove on by making space, physical and mental, to really get to the task at hand. I clear physical space (it changes, I don’t like being chained to any desk) so I won’t be distracted visually. I clear mental space by doing one (or three) things that are bugging me or drawing my attention away. These pesky buggers are usually in the house-cleaning or email clean-up categories. I have no idea what the connection is between a project that needs my groove-on and dirty dishes–I just know clean dishes = an open mind. Then, I literally get my groove on by setting up some lyric-free music and turning off all non-essential electronica.
So, how do you get in a groove? Leave us a comment and tell your story.
BTW: To hear what Lloyd Dangle had to say, check out his CFC 2008 session, “A Quick and Dirty Look at Proposals and Contracts.”