Book Review: ”Capture Your Creativity” PART 2
”Capture Your Creativity. A Guide to Boosting Productivity and Finding Creative Happiness”
by Shelby Abrahamsen
Part 2: Dig Deep
You are the biggest obstacle to your productivity, creativity, and fulfillment
The following sentence just gave me chills: “Nothing has been more difficult than the struggle against myself” (chap. 2). Let this sink in... Nothing... Nothing has been more difficult than the struggle against myself. The struggle against: Myself… I can definitely nod my head to this one.
I gradually gave up my creativity during high school, university, work-life, and when I within two years became a mom to two boys. I always felt there was something more important to do, some adulting that needed to be done. Creativity was just not a priority. And even worse – just like Shelby writes – it began to feel like a waste of time. Because grownups don’t doodle, they don’t make collages, or cross-stich when there are dishes in the sink, dinner to be cooked, money to be made, or training to be done. As I continued reading I added another “Just. Like. Me” in the margin: “This mentality ruled me for several years. After high school I would occasionally dabble with drawing or painting, but I would always feel endlessly guilty. The act of creative play made me feel like crap. While I desired creation, I never felt like my actions were acceptable” (chap. 2). I felt the same. But why this guilt? Because of my tendency to procrastinate.
If you ask me, Shelby is spot on regarding her observations about being a “serial procrastinator”. If you are one, you end up feeling that you are always procrastinating even when you aren’t! This results in constant guilt, shame, and “constant sense of doom” (chap. 3). Reading that explanation of such an awful feeling on paper hit home in a big way for me. When you read it on paper it sounds like a very tough feeling to live with. And it is. Because being a procrastinator results in many different negative feelings which all spread to the other things you do – like being creative or reading a book not related to study or work. These activities should make you feel better and more relaxed, but the thing is – and think, this is an eye-opener for many – they almost become shameful activities. These negative feelings don’t stem from the activity itself; they come from the sense of impending doom from constantly procrastinating obligations. Here I noted in the margin of my book: “OMG!!”.
Know your enemy!
Many of us can recognize starting projects with grand goals for all the amazing stuff we are going to do, only to end up having accomplished none or next to none of them. Then we kick ourselves for being lazy and beat ourselves up. But it doesn’t have to be laziness that keeps us from achieving our goals. Shelby identifies that we ourselves are the biggest obstacle getting in the way of our own dreams and plans. When you have processed this a bit, it’s time to put on your big-girl-pants and turn to the next page: “Chapter Three Obstacles” This was the most significant chapter for me with lots of “NB. Hear, hear. LOL. Me! Spot on. Wow. OMG” written in the margins – because it deals with procrastination.
I am going to be working in depth with my procrastination habits and reasons during my education in time management, but this was an excellent way to kick-start the process. Ever since I finished the book I started to make mental notes when I felt myself procrastinating. How did I procrastinate? And even more important: I reflect on why. Why does writing a blog-post, approaching potential clients, putting away the laundry, or having to pay bills send me into a modern dance of procrastination?
This chapter had other important and relatable sections for me, great information, tips and exercises to get around and behind your form of procrastination, but I don’t wish to share too many and thereby risking stealing aha-experiences you need to make on your own. I just wish to add: The honesty Shelby writes with was liberating for me to experience. Some of the issues I struggle with and which make me feel wrong are actually more common than I thought.
Sometimes I get caught in thoughts like: What’s wrong with me? Why do I sabotage myself? Why can’t I just pull myself together and get it done? But they were confronted with factual, counter-information like: “Everyone is a procrastinator in some capacity” (chap. 3) and no matter what you put off, you have surely found something you try to ignore until a later day. Furthermore it’s relatively “…easy to procrastinate because it produces an immediate reward – doing something fun instead of doing something unpleasant” (chap. 3)... I noted: “Phew”…
Now you need to dig a little deeper and plan
When you have worked with procrastination and other obstacles, you might just be tempted to pull out your planner and plan like crazy to get out of the pit or slump. But you need to treat yourself to the “Rediscover Yourself” chapter first. Here you can use your motivation for change to dig a little deeper in order to analyze your daily time-usage. Until you have done this, there is really no point even planning: “You can’t fix something until you know exactly what’s wrong with it. So it’s time to break down your life into bite sized pieces to see what’s going on under the surface” (chap. 4). By using the tools and exercises in this chapter – I am still working on them in order to see patterns emerge – you can decipher what in your life is blocking your productivity and creativity by creating an honest overview of your time-usage, thoughts, and habits.
Then, in chapter 5, it’s time to plan – yay!! Organization. One of my favorite words. But also one of the things I still, at 33 years of age, struggle with. I know that planning and organizing my time is crucial to spending my time how I wish and need too, but it’s the follow-through part that I sometimes struggle with. I have written down all the tools Shelby presents and I am working on them, as I write this. I know I am ready to make a change – more than ready actually – so now it’s time to do the hard work and follow through.
Work on your happiness
It’s no wonder that a key word throughout the book is happiness. We all wish to be happy. And in “Capture Your Creativity” Shelby draws connections between productivity, creativity, and happiness through the experience of daily presence, gratitude, meaning, and fulfillment.
If you know Shelby just a little, you know she is passionate about “The Morning Pages” presented by Julia Cameron in “The Artist’s Way”. Therefor this is included as a part of Shelby’s “Happiness Toolkit”.
This was a section I was very much looking forward to reading. And I wasn’t disappointed. Everything Shelby presents and explains is done in a concise and understandable way. So when I was done reading this section, I was ready to start my own morning pages. That was 2 weeks ago. I have only done them a few times… But thanks to some of the other tools, I noted down, I can work on finding out what is holding me back. No doubt: it is something within myself. Work in progress, I tell you! But to keep myself motivated I also wrote down this quote: “In order to make big changes you need to address the big issues. And The Morning Pages can help you dig deep and learn more about yourself than you ever knew” (chap. 6). See: This is exiting and scary at the same time. And I am mustering up the courage to dig deep. I know I’ll get there. Just need a breather at this point.
Your next step
In “Capture Your Creativity” Shelby presents – amongst other things – actionable tasks and tools to help you discover truths within yourself, uncover what obstacles get in your way, pinpoint your barriers, and find out exactly how you spend your time in order to change your level of productivity and creativity – and thereby overall happiness – in your daily life. The philosophy behind the steps and tools presented is: First you change your mindset, then you can transform your situation, and this makes it possible to change yourself.
This may very well seem a bit daunting. But Shelby is an honest, realistic, and present writer that offers plenty of encouragement throughout the book. A few of my favorites: “…don’t forget that you are all the support you need” (chap. 3) and “I’m not a wildly exceptional individual, so you can also accomplish your goals if you simply push” (chap. 8).
So when you read the last sentence in “Capture Your Creativity” you’ll be all set to begin your own journey towards fulfillment through productivity and creativity. Because even-though the book is ‘just’ 65 pages long Shelby covers a lot of ground, and she makes sure you know what you can do – and why – in order to improve your daily life.
Now, I have read the book and I have highlighted, written notes, highlighted my notes, and written down all the exercises. I’ll be doing them now and through the end of the year out so I can start 2017 in a strong manner. I deserve that. And so do you.
Thank you for visiting, Kristine, @back2basics_kris.
If you wish to visit Shelby’s website, you can do so here.
And you can get your own copy – or a free preview – of the book here.