Have you ever read a book that was written just for you? You recognize yourself in the character if it is a novel, or you are the sole audience member if it is non-fiction? Right now I am reading such a book, and though I know it was not written just for me as that would not be economically feasible (made more so by the fact that it is a library book) the author seems to know me startlingly well.
The genre the book is listed under is “creativity”. I like the niche it has carved for itself, because it speaks to me on a level that is disquieting in one way, but “creatively” comforting in another. How does the author know me so well? I have come to the conclusion that I am not as “unique” (read: weird) as I thought. Apparently there are a lot of people out there somewhat like me who would benefit from the author’s expertise, which she shares quite generously. But what I find so endearing is that she admits her expertise was hard won.
The book is called “Get It Done” and while it brings the Nike factor of “Just Do It” to mind, it is a little more hands on than the shoe manufacturer’s commercial. The author, Sam Bennett tells us how to “get it done” without admonishing us. “Just do it” seems a bit judgmental and heavily relies on pulling yourself up by your bootstraps (perhaps because it is a manufacturer of footwear, and not into deep soul-searching.)
“Get It Done” is gentle on the creative soul; understanding of fallow times when you just can’t seem to come up with the next idea; and prods us in a mellow, almost soothing way to find the means to “get it done”. “It”, of course can be anything. While Sam is all for us getting our creative selves going, she understands that we are not just solely creative beings—we have lives that entail taking out the garbage, working at jobs that at times do not seem creative, and getting supper on the table.
I am not quite half way through the book yet, but have found that a lot her ideas are not too extravagant to try. Many creatives hide behind procrastination. If we cannot do something perfectly, well then, we might as well not do it at all. Sam says that “Procrastination is an insidious demon that must be fought with every weapon we have.” She equates it with perfectionism which she says “turns procrastination into a virtue.” During a particularly anxious time in her life, she came up with an antidote to the procrastination/perfectionism conundrum. She decided that if she could not disabuse herself wholly of the syndrome, then she would “just try to get a C—which is the grade you get for showing up and doing the work. Not doing the work better than anyone else, not doing extra-credit work—just showing up and doing the work.”
Now, many of us would not be satisfied with a C. (Though to be honest, getting a C in my beloved subjects of English and journalism would have been a death knell; but getting a C in math would have been a bonus for me.) Sam defends “getting a C” for two reasons: first she says “your version of a C is probably everybody else’s version of an A”; and secondly, getting the work out there is the important step, because once it is done, you can always improve it. She once defined perfectionism as “a hobby for people who didn’t have anything better to do with their time” even though she herself suffered from the malady.
I am going to leave you with one of her “Nearly Miraculous Habits” which I think is so doable in getting something done. She says that if she could “actually make us do stuff” the first thing she would do is convince us to spend 15 minutes a day “each and every day working on (our) project”. She believes that we will “be flat-out astonished by how much progress (we) will make. If you spend 15 minutes a day writing a novel, eventually you will have a novel. If you spend fifteen minutes a day working on your abs, pretty soon you’ll have strengthened your core.”
I don’t know about you—but I am ready to be astonished.