You wouldn’t like me when I’m angry…

But apparently I might get more done:

When you’re all riled up, you tend to focus on only the source of your anger. You want to get to the core of the problem. In this case, your anger allows you to zero in on the most important task for the day. You want to eliminate the problem right away, so you don’t bother with multitasking.

Additionally, the adrenaline that rushes through your body allows you to become uninhibited. It produces confidence that allows you to do things that you normally wouldn’t do, but within reason.

So you see, anger is not a bad thing after all—if you know how to use it properly. That begs the question, “How exactly can you use anger to become more productive?”

Feeling Stuck? Make Your Anger Work for You – Cecille Doroja, Pick the Brain (15 October 2014)

Read the full piece.

Six ways to spark creativity

I am very much of the opinion that creativity is the art of plonking one’s backside down at the desk and working at the thing until you bleed. But when you have options, when you could walk away, and when it’s one of those days, take a look at these half dozen suggestions for how to get going.

Some of them are familiar such as the idea that you can give yourself permission to write rubbish at first. (I don’t give myself permission to do this, I just naturally do it all the time.) But some of the others are intriguing, such as perhaps my favourite:

Work in the Dark

If you’re feeling stifled, try working in a dimmer environment. A study published in the Journal of Environmental Psychology has shown darkness and dim illumination promote creativity. Other experiments discovered that you can boost your creativity by simply priming yourself with the idea of darkness—even just describing an experience of being in the dark.

Conversely, while darkness and dim lighting may be more effective for generating ideas, a bright area is more conducive for analyzing and implementing the ideas.Six Unorthodox Ways to Spark Your Creativity – Herbert Lui, (19 August 2014)

It’s my favourite because it was the most unexpected of the half dozen – and because it feels like it rather fits in with my ridiculous 5am starts.

Do read Lui’s full piece for more on this one and the other five ideas.

Why you kill your own ideas

You’ve done this. You’ve thought of something that might be the Next Big Thing – or even is just the Thing You Long To Do. And you don’t do a thing about it so it just never happens. Since we’re writers and it’s often as if there is just something in the air, quite often it does happen and it does get done, just by someone else.

Fast Company writer Courtney Seiter claims there are typically six things that stop her, starting with this:

The No. 1 thing that keeps me from creating is that the idea doesn’t feel complete yet. It lacks something, or I need more examples, or I’m not sure if it’s clear.

A former editor of mine called these “glimmers”—a little spark of an idea, not fully formed but on the cusp of being something. Sometimes you need to let a glimmer sit for a while before it becomes a fully formed idea. Sometimes you can smush it together with a few other glimmers to make something.

The main thing is that idea glimmers need nurturing, which can be hard to do. When ideas are still developing, they can feel embarrassingly incomplete or tough to explain to others. What if my little glimmer is misunderstood or turns out to be nothing at all?

How to fix it: It may seem counterintuitive, but I’ve learned that this is the time to talk about ideas most, so they can grow from a glimmer to a real idea. You can even post it on social media to give it a quick test. So what if the idea might fail? I’ll be able to get feedback right away and know whether to keep thinking on my glimmer or let it go.

6 Ways Your Brain Tries to Kill Your Ideas and How to Fight Them – Courtney Seiter, Fast Company (18 August 2014)

The other five ways include ones you’ll recognise as well as I do: the idea is too hard, we’re too busy, we’re too distracted. The full piece is a meaty examination of these and more with a lot of good ideas for beating them or at least making it more of a fight.

Star Wars productivity advice

Make better films.

I’d start with the scripts, myself.

But if you’re not George Lucas, there is apparently still much advice can you take, mmm, from the films of the Wars of Star. Writer Yael Grauer knows more about Star Wars than I thought existed and has found eight apposite quotes to help us in our work.

Spoiler: one of them is the one you just thought of – “Do or do not, there is no try.” And one of them is just “Ready are you?”. But overall the eight have interesting points, starting with number 1 where she says you could benefit from reframing a job, from looking at it all in a different light:

“Deliver more than you promise. The best way to be always certain of this is to deliver much, even when you promise nothing.” ―Master Tho-Mes Drei, Jedi Master and Jedi Temple instructor

Somewhere on your journey, you’ll hit a point where you have enough work coming in that walking away from a client doesn’t feel like a sacrifice. As a Jedi, you are sworn to protect the peace and justice of the Republic. Therefore, you would follow both the letter and the spirit of the law of any contract you sign, putting effort into each project that you’re obligated to complete. That means you may find yourself in a non-ideal engagement you’re committed to finishing, even though you’re dreading every minute of it.

This is where business coach Pam Slim, award-winning author of Escape From Cubicle Nation and Body of Work, recommends defining specific benefits to your plight. Maybe it’s realizing an assignment will look great in your portfolio, or perhaps the money from a project will pay your healthcare bill the month. “Sometimes making it super concrete can create a positive correlation for you in getting something done,” Slim said. Focusing on the direct reward of completing a project can take your mind away from the challenges.

8 Jedi Mind Tricks for Freelancers (and Star Wars Nerds) – Yael Grauer, Contently (4 August 2014)

Seriously, I could do without the Jedi bits. But I like the points her full article makes.

Ideas come from here. Exactly here. And here.

I’m not a fan. “Oh, JK Rowling’s neighbour had a boy who went to a school, that’s where she got Hogwarts from.” If you can actually trace an idea back to a specific source then either bully for you or where’s the lawsuit? I think it diminishes art to disassemble its parts and claim this bit came from here, that bit was stolen from there.

But since I’m not fussed about Star Wars, bring it on.