Tag Archives: creative

The math behind getting creative stuff done.

Looking at my posts I realize that I have been neglectful of this blog over the holidays.  Thanksgiving, Christmas and work responsibilities can get overwhelming.  But stuff still gets done.

In 2013 I put out three books for children.  I have a lot of teachers ask how I was able to put out three books in the past year, while also teaching.  First, let me say that there are other writers that are able to get more work out than I have this year.  I try not to compare myself to others in how much work gets down or how successful it is.  But I fail at that.  I am human.  I compare.

Maybe that is why teachers ask me how I have done it, they’re comparing themselves to me.  So here goes my plan.  And it is very simple.

Maybe I am stealing from Tim Ferris here.  I don’t know.  He advocates a 4 hour work week.  I am not even suggesting that much for a side project.

15 minutes a day.

That’s it.  That’s my goal.

15 minutes a day equals 250 words.

Just 15 minutes a day.

Just 15 minutes a day.

During a normal day I teach 5th grade.  That alone is enough.  Lesson plans, meetings, parent conferences, grading.  You know, teaching.

Then there is family time.  I have a two year old in the house.  I want to spend as much time as possible with her during this time.  So I do.

But if I set a goal of 15 minutes a day I can get stuff done.  Not blazing fast.  But stuff gets done.  And that’s the goal.  Get stuff done.

Here is the math.

For my writing speed, 15 minutes is about 250 words. 250 words is about half a regular sized paper.

With 250 words a day you can have the text to a picture book in 4 days.

With 250 words a day you can have a rough draft of a 10,000 word early chapter book in 40 days.  (At that rate you can have 9 rough drafts done a year.)

With 250 words a day you can have a rough draft done for a 50,000 word novel in 200 days.

But 15 minutes is the minimum.  Most of the time I go over that 15 minutes.  You get in the flow of writing and you can’t leave.  Before you know it, you have 500-1000 words in front of you.  But aim for 15 minutes or 250 words.  Set yourself up to win.

If you set yourself up, to say, I am going to write 1,000 words a day.  Well.  You write only 750 words.  You’ve failed.  Set a goal of 15 minutes a day and you can easily surpass your goal daily.

What happens when you set a goal and you consistently fail at it?

You stop trying.  You’re human.

What if you set a goal and consistently surpass it?

You keep going.  Before you know it you find that you are creating on a regular basis.

In order to help me with my goal, I am writing this on the first laptop I have ever owned.  It is my hope that the laptop will help me get more writing done.  I won’t be stuck to the desktop to get work done.  So far it seems to be working.

But ultimately we are busy.  We have work, family, friends.  But small chunks of time really begin to add up.  Before you know it you have a work of art that you can be proud of.  All while holding a day job, with family responsibilities.

The math examples are directed at writing, but the concept can be used for any sort of creative side project, photography, illustration, design.

And what happens when you finally publish that first picture, chapter book, or novel?

Well, your life changes.

And it changes for the better.

The 21st Century is a great time to be a creative.

This blog has mostly been about the indie publishing thing going on and my own writing.  I also think a lot about just how different the 21st century is, and why it is a good thing.  And for creatives the 21st century is awesome.  As I’ve written about before the gatekeepers are quickly dying.  In the 21st century you need to choose yourself, and stop waiting for other people to choose you.

Wedding Flowers by Martin Tiller

I photographed a wedding this weekend.  I’ve had a freelance video and photography side business now for ten years.  I’ve never been able to replace the need for “day” job with the revenue from my work, but that is okay.  It’s difficult to pay for all that you need with a side job.  Some bloggers at this point would criticize me, some how not quitting a day job showed some weakness.  I call baloney.  (That’s how I call it.  This is a kid friendly site folks.) Having an additional revenue stream takes the bumps and bruises out of a day job. Ever not gotten a raise or promotion at your day job? Of course we all have.   Especially in the past several years.  Having additional revenue outside can make those moments go from terrifying to just annoying.  But the 21st century allows for these additional revenue streams to be easier to create and have.  Speaking of working on the side verses quitting your job, Ramit Sethi recently posted about when to make the jump from freelance to full-time work.   There is a time and place for it.

My clients from this weekend found my website and contacted me to be their photographer.  20 years ago I would have needed to place an in the phone book (remember those?) And hope the clients would have called to me.  Now in the 21st century before my clients even contacted me already saw my portfolio and client reviews.  I didn’t even need to bring photographs to meet them.  They had pretty already decided to hire me before we even met.  That’s great, less work for me.

Creative people from photographers, videographers, filmmakers, writers, and others now have the ability to reach a large audience and get paid for their work without having to go through a gatekeeper.  Painters no longer need to go through gallery showings, just sign-up at Esty; photographers no longer need to hope for a plum assignment from National Geographic, travel and a Smugmug website will do the same thing; Movie makers no longer need Hollywood when you have Youtube; Musicians no longer need LA when you have iTunes; Writers no longer need the big 6 when you have Amazon and others.  All of these things can be done first as a side gig or hobby that could turn into something more.  What a great time to be a creative person.


Already have a signed book of mine?  Check out my Esty store for signed photographs.  (See what I did there?)