Whittle While You Work

You can whistle while you work too; whistling probably means you are content and focused; getting the job done.  But what if you aren’t focused, not taking action; what if you are overwhelmed and paralyzed by procrastination? 

When this happens, I advocate whittling.  I am not taking about taking a knife to your creative project though I admit sometimes the idea of stabbing my computer with the nearest sharp object has its appeal. 

One of the biggest problems creative geniuses face is overwhelm.  Invariably, a writer will one day grasp the number of completed novels at her favorite book store and think, “Look at all this competition; what’s the use?”  A dancer tunes in to Dances with the Stars and thinks, “I’m not a celebrity. Where is this dancing going to get me anyway?”

Overwhelm seeps into your psyche like a foggy mist until it hardens into a solid block that comes between you and your creativity.  That’s when a little whittling is in order.
First you have to recognize that overwhelm has you in its grip.  When you keep your focus on the big picture, how do you know what is the next possible action you need to take? 

When I use to paint for other people, I could easily get overwhelmed listening to their expectations of the overall finished project.  Finally I learned how to whittle it down into manageable bits.  What is the absolute first thing I needed to do?  It may be that I needed to just think first or make a plan.  It might be that I needed to make a sample; mix a little paint.  Those two things I knew how to do. The idea is to take some small action that I know I can do to attain a tiny measure of success.  This success will propel me forward if I will allow it.

Action promotes further action, and before you know it, you’ve whittled the project to something manageable, even something you are enjoying.  Who knows, you might find you are whistling while you whittle.

Creativity Energizer Break:

  • What project have you been avoiding because the big picture overwhelms you?
  • What can you do to whittle down the giant?
  • Make a whittling plan.
  • Decide on three tiny action steps you can take to get started.
  • Commit to doing them.  (Share your plan with a friend if you need accountability.)
  • Whittle while you work.