I’m working on an entry for an upcoming Worth1000 contest – Everyday Instructions – and I found that about three hundred words into what I was writing, I just kind of… stopped. I still think the idea works, but what I was doing with it just kinda bored the hell out of me. I was working on it prior to a meeting, and – get this – I didn’t think about it once during the meeting itself.
I know, right?
So from this, I have devised a Creative Rule: if what you’re doing bores you, then do it a different way.
Some ideas are harder to work out than others, no matter how easy they may seem at the time, and it’s easy to go at them in the wrong way. If you’re lucky, or if you’ve been doing this kind of thing long enough, your subconscious will give you a little nudge to tell you that you need to get the map out of the glove compartment, or at least ask the guy at the next gas station. Metaphorically speaking. Basically that nudge will tell you that what you’re doing just isn’t doing it for you, and you need to do something else.
Just as recognizing that nudge isn’t easy, what’s even harder is figuring out what it is you have to do next. Do you make a few tiny tweaks and hope they do the trick? Do you scrap everything and start at the beginning? Scrap the project entirely? Shave your head and go live in a mountain temple somewhere and change your name to something like Three Bulging Oxen? That’s something you have to figure out for yourself, and it can be an unpleasant process of trial and error. You might waste time on an idea that’s just never going to work for you, banging your head against the wall for what seems like forever. Or you might give up on an idea only to have a flash of inspiration months – even years – later, and lament that you’ve lost so much time that you could have spent working.
Sooner or later, all you can do is trust your creative instincts and hope for the best.
Of course, it helps if what you’re doing is for your benefit only. The Worth1000 contests are entirely for my own entertainment , as are the writing blog and the review podcast. No one’s paying me to do them, and the only person who is going to punish me for missing a deadline is me. I’ve set the rules for each project, which means that I can change them, if I want to or need to. Because as much as I love my legion  of adoring fans, the only person who can decide whether I write every night or record every week is me. That means that I’m free to make these kinds of creative changes if things start to get stale.It’s different if you’re at work, of course. I can’t just upend my EFL curriculum at school if I get bored with it, because all the students are supposed to cover the same material at the same time. If word gets out that Mr. Gladis’ classes are easier/harder/radically different from what other kids are doing, then I’ll get called up before the Grand Council of English Teachers and beaten with a rod until I repent, signing my confession with ink made of my own blood and tears.
At least that’s what I think will happen. I have no evidence that it won’t.
Anyway, it was a good thought to have, and a good one to keep in mind. I am a slave to my Pride sometimes , which makes changing a decision rather difficult. Giving myself permission to alter the deal – or alter it further, if necessary – is something I need to get more practice doing.
 Although there is a bit of ego tied into it by now: I’ve entered into seven writing contests so far, and I’ve placed in the top three in all of them. To miss one – or to fail at getting in the top three – is becoming less and less acceptable.
 Note: May not actually be a legion.
 All the time.