Last week I shared four tips for completing your creative work. Here are four more!

1. Create a completion checklist.

Devise a way of creating a punch list that helps you check off tasks. If, for example, you are doing something as complicated as making an independent film, you are obliged to work from such lists if you are to keep all the myriad details straight and the enterprise on schedule. Even if you are doing something ostensibly less complicated, like writing a song, you might still contrive a way of creating and using a completion checklist, maybe including such items as lyrics, melody, bridge, tempo change and resolution. A completion checklist may not be appropriate for your current creative project—but it may be. Give this idea some thought!

2. Practice anxiety management.

Our doubts, worries, and nerves prevent us from getting finished. Anxiety threads its way through the creative process and anxiety is most present as we try to complete our work. Learn one or several anxiety management techniques, like a deep breathing or relaxation technique, to help you reduce your experience of anxiety and help you approach your nearly finished work and stay put as you endeavor to finish it.

3. Practice right thinking.

Get and keep a grip on your mind. Nothing does a better job of getting in the way of you completing your creative projects than the thoughts you think that don’t serve you. Thinking a thought as innocuous as “I’m very busy today” or “I don’t have that much energy” can do a perfect job of keeping you from tackling your current creative project. Remember the simple three-step process for dealing with thoughts that don’t serve you: hear what you are thinking; actively dispute any thought that isn’t serving you; and substitute a more useful and affirmative thought for the thought you just disputed. Pay attention to this every day!

4. If you do put a project aside, create a plan for returning.

You may have excellent reasons for putting a creative project aside for the time being. But even if you have excellent reasons for putting it aside, you will want to create a plan and/or a schedule for getting back to it. The plan might be as simple as “As soon as I return from China I will get back to my novel” or it may be more elaborate and take many eventualities and contingencies into account. Imagine the sort of plan you’d want to create to return to your incomplete suite of paintings that are being held up because your arthritis is acting up, because you’re waiting for certain special pigments to arrive, because the narrative thread of several of the paintings is eluding you, and because you’re in negotiations with a gallery for a solo show. Mightn’t this set of circumstances benefit from a plan?

Next week: the final four!

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