As passionate as we might be about exploring our creativity, the reality is that sometimes it’s difficult to motivate ourselves to take action. Whether it’s the fear of plumbing our emotional depths or just good old fatigue after a long day, there are often obstacles to overcome when it’s time to create. While flashes of inspiration are great, we can’t always count on the muse showing up on our schedule. Instead, we’ve got to make our own inspiration. I’ve put together a list of a few things that should help you keep your creative fires lit.
1. Set up a creative space at home
As simple as it sounds, having a place to go where you can focus and be creative can be seriously motivational. Even if it’s just a small desk and a comfortable chair in a corner of your living room, the fact that you’ve dedicated it to your creativity will serve as that little push you might need. Make things as easy as you can for yourself and you’ll be much more likely to dig in.
2. Set up a time of day to create
Routine can be a good thing even for something like creativity. If, for example, you know that every day at 7pm, you’re going to sit for half an hour and explore whatever creative project you’ve set out for yourself, then you’re more likely to do it. They say it takes a few weeks of consciously making yourself do something before it becomes a habit. A daily time to create will go a long way towards a healthy creative practice.
3. Keep a file of unfinished projects
One of the hardest things about creativity is starting with the proverbial blank page. By keeping an organized file of your unfinished ideas and projects, you won’t have to climb the mountain from the bottom every time you sit down to create. While sometimes it feels good to start with a fresh idea, don’t forget to check your unfinished projects file from time to time. It’s remarkable how a few days or weeks can add the perspective you need to see a partially finished concept in a new light and complete it.
4. Find a collaborator
Nothing motivates more than accountability. If someone is counting on you to show up and get to work, you’re more likely to do it. Not only that but halving the burden can make creativity a much more approachable pursuit. This is one of the many benefits of collaboration. Other advantages include having someone whose creative gifts compliment your own in such a way that you both get a better result than you would have separately. If you haven’t collaborated on a creative project yet, this is as good a time as any to give it a try. Even if it’s not a perfect experience, we all benefit from observing firsthand someone else’s creative process.
5. Give yourself an assignment
Sometimes the idea that you can create anything is just too much freedom. Often it’s easier to work on a creative project if you have some guidelines. If, for example, you tell yourself you’re going to sit down and write a haiku about your family pet, you’ll find it’s easier to get to work. Anything you can do to give shape and structure to what you’re attempting to create will make the task that much simpler.
6. Tell yourself you’ll only work on it for five minutes
This is one of my all time favorites. On days where you’re really struggling to tackle your creative practice, tell yourself you’ll only have to sit down for five minutes. That way, if nothing is happening after the allotted five minutes, at least you’ve tried. It’s astonishing, however, how often those days are the days where the breakthroughs actually happen. Taking the pressure off of yourself may be all that you need to get on a roll. That being said, if it’s just not coming, stop. There’s no point in making yourself miserable. There’s always tomorrow.
Taking time to develop your own creative practice is a gift but, as with most gifts, some assembly (otherwise known as work) is required. My hope is that by suggesting a few ways to lessen the burden of getting started, you’ll be able to create more consistently and enjoy the accompanying results.
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