Photo credit: “Colored Steps” by Danna Kinsky courtesy of the artist.
©2003 Danna Kinsky

In this world of everything all the time, pruning clippers may be the most important career tool to keep handy. Pruning is not cutting off the dead branches, but studying the entire plant and cutting off a selection of healthy branches so that the remaining branches can thrive. Instead of many pieces of fruit competing for limited resources, pruning allows the limited resources of the plant to be focused on a smaller number of fruit. Gardeners do this so that the fruit on the remaining branches will be full and flavorful. And I think we as creatives can learn from this technique.

When you are a creative, possibilities are drawn to you. That’s the beauty of creativity. And this does not even include the number of well-meaning friends and family who just have to introduce you to so and so or think that you must do x or y. Isn’t it a miracle that there are so many possibilities to choose from especially on those days when you think you have none? But the flip-side is that all these possibilities can function as distractions: bright, shiny possibilities that are so much more exciting than revising the copy for your website or reconciling your business account statements. It’s more fun to dabble in a possibility than to do the work of making something a reality. Or is it?

Experiment with pruning for a month. Choose one idea and focus on manifesting that one idea rather than starting and stopping on a collection of ideas. For just a month, do both the fun and seemingly tedious tasks of making that idea real. When other ideas spring up, write them down on a pad of paper on your desk. (You are not discarding anything, just choosing to focus in one place for a period of time.)

Here’s what will happen as you begin to develop momentum under that one idea:

  • You will feel proud of what you are accomplishing.
  • You will communicate what you are doing in a consistent way.
  • Others will begin to recognize the work you are doing.
  • You will develop a supportive community around your idea.
  • Ideas for financial support will emerge.

That last bullet is key. Financial support will provide you with more, not less, freedom to create. You may not like the idea of doing what you do “for the money” but the reality is that you do need some sort of financial exchange or real-world support for your idea or you will not be able to continue to work on it. Work that one idea and it will help you create a track record of meaningful projects that will open doors for all the other ideas that are waiting on that pad of paper.

Now sort through your ideas, choose one and make it happen!

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