We all think of creative pursuits as super fun things to do in our spare time, right? Inspiration strikes and we come up with the hook to a new song on the guitar. Or we write ten pages of our novel. Or we hand-letter the heck out of that practical yet memorable quote we dreamed up that a billion people are destined to Tweet to their followers.
Sometimes creativity does work that way.
But most of the time it doesn’t.
I mean, really, who on earth has endless time to dedicate to working on their passions? I don’t know about you, but I am BU-SY. I get up at 6, go to morning yoga, work for at least eight hours, run errands, say a brief hello to family/friends, watch an hour of reality TV, and collapse. I don’t have hours to spend daydreaming and thoughtfully writing my epic novel, like Jo March in Little Women. I barely have time to breathe. Chances are that you have an insane schedule yourself. It ain’t easy.
So how on earth does anyone have time to be creative anymore?
The truth is that pretty much all creative folk—especially those who work at creative jobs for a living—have to figure out how to force themselves to be creative. If they sat around waiting for inspiration to strike, they’d be sitting around for a looooong time.
What do I mean by that? Well, I publish a blog every week.
Does inspiration strike me every week?
Do I feel like a creative genius every week?
If I don’t force myself to create something before my deadline, will anything appear on my blog?
So if you’re not in a particularly creative mood, how can you motivate yourself to get going?
Just like running a marathon, you have to put one foot in front of the other to inch your way to the finish line.
Start by giving yourself really easy fake deadlines. Kind of like hitting snooze on your alarm clock. So for example, I’ll say to myself that my only job is to think of a blog topic by Sunday afternoon. If it takes me until Sunday night or Monday morning, I’m probably still in good shape.
Next, set a very easy-to-accomplish goal to ease into the work. The hardest part is getting started, amiright? Once you start doing something, it’s easy to keep going, but it’s just sooooo hard to get the ball rolling. For example, isn’t it MUCH harder to pick up that first dirty shirt from your bedroom floor than it is to pick up the tenth dirty shirt? (Hypothetically, of course. I’m sure your room is spic-and-span.)
Finally, reward yourself for your blood, sweat, and tears. I don’t know about you, but I love Doritos. Like, LOOOOOOVE them. And I’ve loved them ever since I was in fifth grade and would devour half a bag after CYO cheerleading practice. They’re terrible for you, obviously, which is why I only allow myself to eat them as a treat. So once I’ve completed a particularly hard task, I dig into a bag of Original Nacho Cheese Doritos, not caring if that delicious fake cheese gets all over my fingers and gives me a stomachache later. (Can you tell I’m hungry?) When you’ve finished writing your paper or updating your resume or editing that darn blog post, give yourself a pat on the back for all your hard work.
Did I feel particularly creative when I sat down to write this blog post?
Did I enjoy myself once I started writing?
I definitely did.
Am I happy it’s over and I can now reward myself with Doritos?
You know it!
*The one caveat to all of the above is that if you really, really, REALLY feel as if all your creative juices have been squeezed out of you, don’t beat yourself up about it. Sometimes you just need to take a breather and regroup. The best way I’ve found to hydrate my creative soul is to do something I really and truly enjoy, like taking a walk, or calling my folks, or watching one of my favorite shows. Just make sure you’re hitting snooze—not turning your alarm off completely.
P.S. Hey there! Did you notice my new pics? They're all thanks to photog goddess, Janelle Carmela. If you're interested in boosting your brand with some fabulous pics (or if you just want to capture your little ones at their cutest), check her out at JanelleCarmela.com!
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