Looking for that next step up in your arts & entertainment career? In this column, Dr. Eileen Wirth shares everything she has learned about being a creative professional.
At my gym, the “resolution people” are out in force. We regulars know that most will vanish by the end of the month. But I wasn’t always a regular exerciser. I became one via a resolution that I made in 1980 – long before you all were born – to never start exercising again
That summer, I reluctantly joined a friend in running most mornings. Although the first month was awful, I got into it and felt so good that when fall came, I found a gym to keep it up and made my resolution. Eventually, I switched from running to walking, but what counted was spending half an hour a day moving.
My exercise plan also works with writing or other creative work. The prospect of starting a writing project can be intimidating because like running, writing is painful. The key is to write consistently.
RESOLVED: I will never start writing again because I will write regularly.
Pick a project that you can complete in six months so you don’t get discouraged and quit. Just like you stretch to prepare for a workout, create an outline to prepare to write. Try to envision your finished work then break your outline down into doable steps.
When I write a book, I compile a tentative list of chapters then start researching them one by one. I usually start each chapter by interviewing someone who can suggest the key points that it should cover, who else I should talk to, and references to consult. I write and revise each chapter while the information I’ve gathered is fresh. Often it takes a year or more to finish a book but the chapter-by-chapter approach keeps the work from feeling too daunting.
This approach also allows me to use small schedule openings to do my regular writing. I’m not waiting for that mythical four-hour block of time that will magically appear.
Whether you are writing or running, keep your resolutions simple and doable so you will keep them. You can do it!
Be a resolution keeper, not a “resolution person.”
Got a question or topic on creativity you would like Dr. Wirth to address for The Greenhouse Journal? Shoot her an email at EILEENWIRTH@creighton.edu.
Dr. Eileen Wirth is a professor emeritus of journalism at Creighton University and is an author specializing in Omaha history. She was a reporter at the World-Herald and a PR Writer for Union Pacific before joining Creighton in 1991. Eileen’s books include The Henry Doorly Zoo & Aquarium, Historic Omaha Houses of Worship and From Society Page to Front Page. She is on the board of History Nebraska and a member of the Nebraska Journalism Hall of Fame, the Nebraska Women’s Journalism Hall of Fame, and the Omaha Press Club Hall of Fame. She also has been active in numerous groups particularly the Omaha Public Library.