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Growing Gills: How to Find Creative Focus When You’re Drowning in Your Daily Life Paperback – May 16, 2017
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"Abel delivers a motivating productivity guide for people who have trouble finishing creative projects...[Her] plan of attack is as thorough and astute as the assessment questions, providing practical and detailed actions that target problematic habits."
--Professional Artist Magazine
"[Abel's] writing voice is very confident, very capable, very conversational, but not sloppy. You always feel like she's in control of her voice. It doesn't have to be that well-written because the advice is all very good, but it's such a pleasure. I was really impressed."
--Sonia Simone, Copyblogger.fm
"If you have creative work but have been unable to make it happen, I highly recommendGrowing Gills. It is practical and down to earth, and it is realistic. Whether you are blocked by illness, disability, job, money, fear, or family, this book will help you take an honest look at where you are, where you want to be, and chart a path between the two."
"[Growing Gills is] about prioritizing creative processes over all the other stuff that can get in the way of success, in pinpointing priorities in the creative life, in time management, and in taking the steps needed to bring big, beautiful projects to fruition."
From the Back Cover
Dive deep and swim
Go from overwhelmed, anxious, and stuck, to consistent, clear, and in control of your creative life.
You're a creative person. Even if you have a hard time calling yourself a "writer" or an "artist" in public, making your creative work is core to who you are and how you see the world. You may be nurturing a big, ambitious idea for a project. Possibly a lot of them.
And it's killing you.
You lie awake thinking about it. And then in the morning you're exhausted, and you can't believe you "wasted" more time on this stupid idea. You try to shove your idea away. But your creative work is what keeps you sane. You can't not do this. So you live with guilt and anxiety all the time.
Maybe you've tried to borrow time-management tips from the business world, but the problem isn't simply getting "things" done, it's allowing yourself to devote precious time and attention to the vital, self-generated creative work that builds toward your vision for the future.
But the life you're living is already full. You've made a lot of promises, to yourself, your family, your friends, and your community, that you'll be there for them. Where, exactly, can you find that mythical Creative Focus Unicorn?
Growing Gills takes you step by step through the process of pinning down exactly what's stopping you from finishing your beautiful, inventive, and potentially game-changing projects, and overcoming those obstacles.
In Growing Gills, you'll discover that the power is already within you to make your work.
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As you read through the book, you may think many of the suggestions are "obvious" or "common sense". I'd encourage you to not simply read and move on, but to actually do the suggested activities, even if they seem simple or silly or boring. You'll be surprised by how well they help you get clarity on things. I can see myself using this book more in the future any time I'm in need of a creative tune-up.
Within a week of reading this book, I managed to write - from start to finish - a full 24 page comic script that I had been trying to start for the past 6 months. If that's not a ringing endorsement of the methods contained herein, I don't know what is.
There's a wealth of productivity self-help out there, but "Growing Gills" occupies a unique place — it's specific to writers, artists, and creators, whose work and psyche have particular demands, and it's procedural but flexible in its teaching about time and energy management. If you've ever wondered how to choose which project to work on, how to make progress on the micro and macro level, if you've ever tried and failed to create systems to support your practice, this book will guide you well.
Growing Gills is a practical guide to flourishing in your creativity while balancing it with all of the things in one's daily life that often detract from it.
Author Jessica Abel includes this philosophy along with numerous actionable steps and approaches to help the reader maximizing their creative process, prioritize and focus on the projects most important, and offers steps to follow through to completion.
These processes aid the reader in identifying, understanding and managing daily distractions. The text includes various exercises such as time tracking to identify how one currently spends their time and the actions needed to thoughtfully maximize creativity.
Included in the text are exploratory activities and a workbook full of pre-formatted templates to aid in the process ~ a benefit so one can hit the ground running.
Areas covered include:
~ Identifying and managing priorities and how to take time for one's self.
~ Balancing home life, work life, parenting, etc. with creative goals and ambitions. Making it all fit...
~ Establishing healthy routines.
~ Optimizing your creative time.
~ Planning and execution.
~ Measuring one's progress toward one's goals.
~ Coping proactively with inevitable delays... and therefore minimizing frustration.
~ Details on coping with frustration or feeling overwhelmed and how to get back on track.
~ De-cluttering your life and mind, both physically and mentally.
~ Time management, scheduling important tasks, following through on the process, choosing your goals and how they fit in to your vision of what you want to achieve.
Jessica is someone who has been though these challenges. She identifies how she clears those hurdles, both the external and the self-created kind. This book in itself is a product of the very processes she writes about.
If you're familiar with Jessica Abel's blog, you're sure to note that this text is written in her own conversational voice, and with her humorously no-nonsense attitude. Subject matter is backed up with the her personal accounts and is overall delivered with encouragement, empathy and with proactive steps to take.