Helping Creative People Create

Feeling Scattered? You Might Be Feeling the Pressure to Publish

As I sit reading a copy of a friend’s upcoming book (which is going to incredible), I can feel something in the corner of my mind:
The nagging pull of needing to constantly create.

Right now I’m sitting in a coffee shop on a Saturday morning with almost no agenda. I have plenty to do, but I’ve decided to only do stuff for the next three hours that isn’t related to work. One of those things was to read my friend’s book.

Yet, in the corner of my mind, I’m constantly thinking about what I could use for a quote, or thoughts I could tweet, or anything that I could publish somewhere.

It’s like a digital version of ADHD.

Is anyone else feeling this? With the addition of Google+, there is a growing need each day to need to publish something to people who (presumably) are interested in what I think. Then there’s Facebook, Twitter, blogs to read, newsletters, emails to respond to, and even this blog post. All of these things make the weight of having to produce something heavier each moment.

Because of this pressure to create more and more on platforms that aren’t my own, I find myself doing the opposite and publishing less across the board. My Twitter account has taken a nosedive in tweets in the past few months. Facebook? Fahhhget about it. I’m barely able to hang on with Google+ as it is. (It’s my favorite of the three, but that’s beside the point.)

One thing I have noticed, though, is that when I start my day with my laptop closed, things become more clear. When I start by reading words on paper and writing ideas with a pen on actual paper, my thoughts take a more structured and full shape. They’re able to stand on their own, and they’re much clearer.

This is how the medium helps shape the message. I can’t toggle between screens, I can’t switch gears. I have to focus on what I’m writing, one letter at a time. My thoughts slow down, and I’m calmer.

Anyway, that’s how I’ve helped counter this nagging pressure to create fragments and focus on more important things. It’s a real problem for those who have to create daily, and it’s only going to get worse.

I’d love to hear your thoughts on how you’re combating this. What techniques do you use?

Thumbnail by Nina Matthews Photography

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  • http://twitter.com/RJMcCollam RJ McCollam

    I struggle with the same thing. Having a full time job, freelancing on the side, and trying to build leftoverapple.com I am always thinking in terms of what needs to be done and what I could use as an article, tweet, or whatever else.

    Add in having a wife and daughter and it makes things even harder. I have tried turning to technology to help me keep things organized, but like you wrote it is to easy to switch to something else instead of focusing on one thing at a time.

    • http://lifedev.net Glen Stansberry

      Yeah, adding family into the mix makes things 1,000 times tougher. For all its promises, technology still can’t help with focus. At least for me :)

  • http://twitter.com/Penelopemuses Penelope James

    Couldn’t agree more. Finding time to do everything we want to and also write just doesn’t work out. Turn the focus around to write first and then find time for the rest. 

    When I get up and go straight to the computer, I’m less motivated to write. So, I’m trying a routine whereby Mondays I catch up on e-mails, blog posts, etc. Tuesday to Friday afternoon concentrate more on writing, and weekends, personal stuff and reading. So far, it’s worked – for one week. Let’s see about next. 

    • http://lifedev.net Glen Stansberry

      I agree. When I go straight to the computer, I”m most likely to… fiddle. Every time.

  • KATE PILARCIK

    Good conveying of the lifestyle so many connectivity-enrichments have piled us up with desiring to be on top of, Glenn. I come alive with *possiblilities thinking* on paper as well ~ add robust caffeine in a trusty blue mug or put me out under the sun with a fresh notebook and gosh darn, anything is possible — but yeah, you nailed it — Feeling the { inner } pressure to publish – perform – prolificate out there with the realms of WebTowne and uphold your presence in flair or flare — ya just gotta, that inner voice stage-whispers. Balance though in a life well-lived somehow gets more done in less keyboardia than expected … so, I rally in between to do as wise Penelope has and conjure categories of FOCUS in certain timezones or days … likewise G+ has been winning for me in a higher spinning reach (are we in each other’s circles yet, I wonder?) … so I seek out some investment timing in ways to streamline all that tarnation of toggling you speak of — Netvibes and some of the Chrome apps are real handy work-smarter-not-harder tool vibes I’ve found.

    Good reading your collective thoughts and nodding in affirmation. As a promoter/publisher though — doggone it – you should’ve given your friend’s book’s name a decent plug of identity mention in your site reference.

    ~ Absolutely*Kate
    AT THE BIJOU and around WebTowne
    http://at-the-bijou.blogspot.com/

    • http://lifedev.net Glen Stansberry

      Kate, great thoughts. I’ve also added you to my Google+ circles :) Oh, and the book I was reading? 

      http://www.theuncertaintybook.com/

      Jonathan Fields is gonna rock it! I just didn’t want to let the cat out of the bag until he had the site up :) I’ve updated the post to add the link ;)

  • http://www.facebook.com/mindfulmimi1 Mindful Mimi

    Hi Glen,
    Have been reading your blog for a while and this one made me want to post… :-)
    I think we all have the same attention splatter problem, whether we’re creatives or not. There is so much out there already that we want to read, share etc that often we spend so much time sharing other people’s stuff that we do not create anything of our own.
    When I look for inspiration for a post I can easily get lost in ‘googling’, reading other people’s stuff, and before I know it 3 hours have gone by and I have not even written a sentence…
    I do have difficulty with the ‘writing regularly’ and setting up a habit system. I have two small kids, a day job… and it is difficult to plan something like this at a certain day and hour.
    But I find that when I am driving to work (which takes 20 minutes) my ideas roam freely. There is no attention splatter, no facebook, noone who disturbs me. And before I know it one idea has evolved into a post and when I get to work or home I sit down and a post can be written in half an hour…
    So I am not really getting stressed about it (not all the time anyway ;-)
    Thanks for this reminder that I am not alone !
    Mimi

    • http://lifedev.net Glen Stansberry

      Thanks for reading Mimi! Yeah, I feel the same thing when I go to facebook. I’ll have intentions of just finding one person’s contact info but..wait…did that guy REALLY post that picture?! and before I know it I’ve been on Facebook for 20 minutes. It’s incredibly frustrating. 

      I also love ideas in the car. The shower is another place where I’m likely to get ideas.

  • http://www.juicylife.ca AnneMelnyk

    Hi Glenn,

    Your post hit the head on the nail for me this morning!  I’m just back from vacation and feeling totally scattered as I try to pick up where I left off with twitter, facebook, blog, marketing etc.

    The energy I am expending on creating digital momentum, staying ahead of the learning curve, finding useful snippits share, and interacting with others totally sucks the energy and focus I have for writing and my work.

    It’s all become about digital marketing.

    What’s a solopreneur to do? I’m realizing I need to find a new rhythm  if this is going to be sustainable and productive!

    • http://lifedev.net Glen Stansberry

      Thanks Anne. Yeah, we’ve been told that we we’re missing out on “opportunities” by not staying in constant touch with social blah blah blah. The fact is, we don’t know what we’re *not* creating because we’re expending so much energy on trying to keep up.

      I’d say focus on YOU first, then get social :)

  • http://www.facebook.com/coco.oconnor Coco O’Connor

    Thank you … I feel the pressure and just last week…felt like ‘focusing’ on one thing should be something I strive for. In addition to feeling scattered, I feel like I have to be an expert on EVERYTHING, ie WordPress, Dreamweaver, HTML 5, CSS, PHP, Photoshop, MYSQL and the list goes on and on…. Heck I got into the web to promote my music… but we all know how hard that is:) I learn many skills kinda as a by-product and now I am a full time Content Manager…so I find that since I work in the web all day long…promoting my music well, I don’t have the energy to give to that anymore:) Like you twitter …on occasion, Facebook,nada etc etc 

    Thanks again for sharing…

    Hugs
    Coco

    • http://lifedev.net Glen Stansberry

      Totally know what you mean Coco. I checked out your band page and was impressed! Great work :)

  • http://sharingmatters.com Paul Montwill

    Digital ADHD – there is just too much things going through our minds – desires to share, write, tweet. As you said – we need to cut it off and focus on a creative process. These are our thoughts and we should be in control.

    Our passion for writing and sharing is great and instead of doing it on Social Media in small dozes, it is worth combining all the thoughts in a form of a blog post. It is enough to feed our internal animal.

  • Donniezazen

    I can write 500 words in a matter of few minutes in my diary but words cease to come out on computer. I should probably try something like Dragon Naturally Speaking voice to text software to transcribe my diary notes to digital format and then make them blogable.

    • http://lifedev.net Glen Stansberry

      I’ve liked Dragon dictate in the past, though I have a hard time writing “with my mouth” so to speak. It’s much easier for me to write (with a pen) words down than it is to say them.

  • http://www.subliminalmessagingmp3.com/ Mark Dobbie67

    I am a Manager of a Call Centre, Unfortunately, I had to step back a team leader who was very skilled in lots of areas. She put it upon herself to take everything on… as much as I tried to coach her to stick to the task she was responsible for she continued to take on work from her peers her social committee, fire warden, even the new “green Team” . She eventually became close to useless. I  stepped her back so that she can focus on her tasks that compliment her skills. Ever since I made this move, she is now the backbone of our department, I don’t know what I would do without her…. So yes I liked your post

  • Aaron

    How do I stay focused? Well, it’s pretty simple… hang on, phone. 

    As I was saying, I try to get into a place where…..  one sec… text from my mom… “yes, will be there for dinner, bringing the Cornish game hens!”

    One thing I try to do is FOCUS and I find that it really helps me… WHAT is that shiny thing across the parking lot??? Wow, that’s weird!

    Ummm…. I forgot what I was saying. Something about focus. I think.

    ;-)

    Aaron

  • Ashworth_anthony

    I too often feel the “nagging pressure” to create. Quite honestly, that very pressure may be the very most important thing at the time. I say this because I’m hearing you say that there’s more important things to do. However, you are both………..right and wrong.  In terms of right and to name only one of many- your family. In the light of wrong, if you will, would be to go ahead and flow with your pressure and create. Doing so will be the very act of releasing our pressure at hand. As for Daily, why place your expectations of having to create daily upon yourself? It’s too easy to let ourselves down if we expect too much. One of the greatest mistakes of all would be the fear of making a mistake!  When we are afraid to make a mistake, we choose to do something other than to be ourselves and our best. We allow fear to make a decision for us. Knowing we gain wisdom from our mistakes, we can see them as stepping-stones to learning and growth. Thanks, And by the way, you have a great blog.

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     raybandiscountshop.com

  • http://twitter.com/goalstribe Goalstribe


    digital version of ADHD” – Now I have a term for what I have!
    I usually just take a walk or look around and try to find out what everyone else (who are not on the computer) is doing.

  • http://twitter.com/aleekwrites amanda leek

    So right! =)

    Typing and seeing the words on a screen, I feel they are instantly publishable because we’re so used to reading words on a screen. And that puts more pressure on me because I see a page of my words and feel impatient when it’s just not ready.

    But when I huddle over my notebook and scribble I feel free to doodle and write silly sentences and just freely create. Then I type when it’s much more ready and the pressure has passed.