3 tips for getting more work out

Buckle up, it’s quick advice time!

1) Daily word count

I have rediscovered a piece of advice that seems to help to get more writing done. Have a daily word count to meet. It sounds weird to measure texts like that, as the word count tells you nothing about the quality of what you got. And that’s the thing, it is not about the quality. It is about getting you into writing mode at all, writing anything. If it turns out to be something that you will completely cut later, well, that could have happened with your “regular” writing, too. 500-1000 words seems to be enough for the getting into the writing zone effect. You can of course always do more, but don’t expect too much too quickly from you, especially if your focus is short.

You can probably apply this to art tasks such as making thumbnails, too. I will definitely try that out.

2) Rule of thumb anti- burn-out formula

Never give the full 100%. That sounds like a terrible piece of advice, I know. It’s even weirder when I say it, because I’m notorious for sky high ambition. I therefore had my share of burn-out experiences though and couldn’t ever figure out why until recently.

My work cycles used to look like this: raw powerful bursts of work, never letting any energy lie on the table if it was available, followed by periods of equally harsh exhaustion. Usually, the energy was spent so brutally, that there wasn’t any left to end a project if it took too long. I was too badly hurt in the end to bring myself to lay finishing touches onto it. There are a couple of zines I started the world never saw, more than a couple of unfinished scripts for stories. Hordes of unfinished drawings. My webcomic once made a months long break between chapter 2 and 3 for the same reason. The will to continue it was there every day, but just not the energy.

This could have been avoided or mitigated if I had explicitly restricted myself in the doses of daily work. I was trying to appear hard working before myself and others, but work is not about appearances. Although a lot of people will judge you by appearances alone, in the end your work must produce results. If your work can produce predictable, repeatable results of a quality people are willing to pay you for, congratulations, you have turned pro. So when your goal is to turn pro or even to just enjoy what you are doing, you do not want to survive projects barely and dread the next one for the anticipated pains and further exhaustion. Instead draw a clear line between what you have actually seen and experienced yourself do and what you think you ought do and do not go for the fantasy goals and workloads your pride tells you to go for. Most of your days will be average, some bad, only very few ideal. If you have a daily workload that you can fulfill even on your worst days you are better off than someone who has to rely on the good days. You will definitely get more done long term. And you will probably be less stressed out about it.

So do not give the full 100%. You are not holding back, you are not lazy, you are protecting your ability to do work consistently and to FINISH things.

3) Things have ends

This is another aspect of finishing projects. Now especially people who start projects easily but have a hard time finishing them listen up. One of the things that costs you so much energy when wrapping things up is letting go. You have made great experiences, possibly leveled up several times while working on your thing. Of course, you would not want to lose that feeling. Making progress towards a goal is addictive and sometimes possibly more rewarding than the feeling of actually having finished. You also might be deeply in love with your characters and not want to “lose” them either. I am guilty of multiple accounts of this. Once a project is finished, a story told, you have to say goodbye. Even if you were to tell the story of a character from birth to last breath because you love them so and want to drag out until you have to part ways again, you will one day arrive at the last breath. It is the same as with how fleeting life can feel when people come and go, places decay and emerge, things change. Things change all the time and you can’t plan and prepare for everything. Do not be afraid to live life even if that is so. That we do not have people and things forever gives them value, let’s us appreciate them more. The same goes for telling stories which in a way are depictions of life, so they will share some of it’s traits. As a child I have always wondered what fictitional characters do after their stories are told. Do they sit in a little farmhouse and stare at a wall, never having a big adventure again? That seemed more dreadful to me than writing them into ever escalating conflicts that get boring, once you have them overcome any possible challenge and saving not only the world but the whole universe. You can’t escalate from that.

As I have gained some more life experience since then I’m coming to terms with ageing, death(at least a bit) and how the passing of time actually feels. Yes, it is possible that someone does one big deed in their life, has a glorious youth, but then that is it. They do found a family, stare at walls and screens and then they fade. We all do. Some people are late bloomers and have their time later in life. Some are adventurers that never retire. There is no one right way to live. You don’t notice the passing of time from day to day. You would not notice that you yourself fade but you will notice it very painfully at times in the loved ones around you. Creative creations can have a spot in your heart comparable to that. That is okay. You are passionate about them. Yet any creation we can make has a form and the form dictates that it is finite. Value them for what they are. Also value yourself. You give time and energy of your own life and pour it into works that can be enjoyed by so many people now and later, when you are long gone. Things have ends, we have ends, and yet you are on your creative journey and happy to create. So dare to finish your creations and move on to the next.