Creative Compass - Welcome - Jessica Abel

Welcome to the
Creative Compass

Why you procrastinate, and how to stop

Since you did the What’s Stopping You? checklist, you know you’re staring at least a few big obstacles between you and getting your hooks into your creative work.

But what can you do about it?

Each of those checklist questions represents a dilemma: a situation where there are several options, all of which carry serious, non-negligible, competing tradeoffs. In the Creative Compass 5-day minicourse, you’ll examine each of those dilemmas, figure out what exactly the stakes are, and make conscious decisions.

If you don’t understand what you’re deciding, you’ll get confused, foggy. Whatever it is can feel a lot bigger and more overwhelming than you’re capable of dealing with. And so you really can’t decide at all.

From the outside, not deciding looks a heck of a lot like procrastination

When you feel overwhelmed and scattered, and end up procrastinating instead of making the creative work you dream of, it’s not because there’s something wrong with you. It’s more likely because you are facing a painful dilemma.

What’s a dilemma?

A dilemma, narratively speaking, is not just a decision to make; it’s a situation where there are several options, all of which carry serious, non-negligible, competing tradeoffs. That means, when you choose one option, you specifically lose out on aspects of the other option.

Narratively, dilemmas are very useful. Characters facing dilemmas grab our hearts and attention, and we feel along with them as they struggle with how to move forward.

Dilemmas in real life are a lot less fun

The reason we love to see characters grappling with dilemmas is because our own real dilemmas are so freaking hard. We want to know how others deal with them, to help guide and gauge our own decisions.

The problem is not enduring the discomfort of the tradeoffs that come with a decision. You’re tough. You can handle it.

The real problem comes when you don’t decide, when you don’t understand and face what sacrifices your actions (or non-actions) will entail at all, and instead let whatever happens, happen.

In other words, the problem occurs when you are facing a dilemma and you don’t face that fact and make the hard decision; instead you just close your eyes and do whatever occurs to you… which will almost certainly be neither of the competing choices at the heart of your dilemma.

This is the secret to taking control and changing course. There’s nothing easy about committing to creative work. But when you know what you’re choosing, you can go into it eyes open.

Next: Creative Compass Day 1: Establish Your Priorities