You Aren’t Creative Until You Pick a Project

I’ve been working with creative and performing artists and other creatives for more than thirty years, first as a therapist and then as a creativity coach. Among their many challenges is the following one, a challenge that I’d like to chat about for a few weeks running. It’s the challenge of getting and staying organized.

It’s one thing to successfully organize your spices, your socks, or your tax documents. But how do you keep your ideas organized? How do you keep your part-written songs or part-written stories organized? What do you do when you get a thought that ought to go somewhere in your book but you have no idea where it should go? Is it even possible to keep random ideas, bits of writing, fragments of melodies, or fleeting visual imagery organized? How is that even possible?

And what if you have lots of loves and interests? What if you intend to write books but also want to paint, make prints, sculpt, cartoon, and create gaming apps? How are you supposed to keep all of that organized? And what if you only have a few hours each day to spend on your creative life and the rest of the time you have to make a buck, deal with the commute, listen to that leaky faucet, and tend to your sick child? Are human beings built to be able to do all this?

One key is to have a primary creative project. If you are maybe working on this, maybe working on that, or maybe working on the other thing, you aren’t really working on anything. Your creative life will feel disorganized and you won’t make any progress. You may be someone who says that he has so many loves that he just can’t choose one thing to focus on—but that thought is a self-sabotaging trap and an avoidance mechanism. What you are really saying is that it makes you anxious to imagine committing to one project. But committing is necessary and designating one creative project as primary is vital.

Pick a book to write. Pick a series of paintings to paint. Work on one song until it is done, then record it, then share it. Pick a thing, work on it, complete it, and show it. For creatives, organization doesn’t really start until a primary project is picked. Yes, you may make false starts; yes, you may change your mind. But hold the intention that you will really dive into one creative project and do it proud. That’s step 1 toward becoming a functioning, organized, productive creative person.

More steps to come! If you don’t want to miss any posts in this series and if you want to keep up-to-date on my posts, subscribe for free here: If you’re a creative person or a would-be creative person, this series will serve you. Stay tuned!

Eric Maisel is the author of 50+ books. You can learn more about him at, subscribe to all of his blog posts at, learn more about kirism here, and write him at

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