How do you stay inspired?
If I let myself think too much about the prospect of writing every day it becomes entirely overwhelming.
There are days when it’s easy, and then there are days when it feels like pulling teeth to come up with 750 words, and my mind is filled with 100 voices, each telling me something different that I really should be doing right now, instead of trying to force out some random number of words onto a page.
Part of this is simply resistance, which we’ve discussed before.
The antidote to resistance is always action.
And yet in addition to simply taking action every day on our pursuit, there are some other things that we can do to continually stoke the fires of our creativity, such that resistance shows up less.
Make a growth plan and follow it
I learned about growth plans in the real estate coaching program BOLD, and fell in love with the concept. It’s incredibly simple – it’s just a piece of paper with a box for every month of the year, and you write into each box what you’re going to be doing to grow yourself personally during that month. It may be attending a class, it may be reading a book, or perhaps going to a conference. Whatever it is, the idea is that we must be purposeful about our growth.
Because I like to write about growth in particular, the growth plan doubles as an inspiration plan for me. I take inspiration from the subject matter that I’m learning and then transform that into articles. For a different type of creative pursuit, one could simply insert different things into the boxes. For example, if you are a singer, you might fill your boxes with songs you will study, artists and styles you will read about, classes and activities you will participate in that are directly related to growing your skill and knowledge around singing. The input of learning and practice will effect the output which is your craft- your finished product.
Take time off
One of the things it’s taken me a very long time to learn is that we need breaks. Working ourselves to the bone in any manner, no matter how we feel about our work, is counter-productive. Even when your work is your passion, you still need breaks.
Our minds are like soil. The are generally fertile, yet if we overwork them they can become sterile, and it will be increasingly challenging for something beautiful to grow there. Like soil, our minds need rest and fertilization. We nourish our minds with the growth and inspiration plan, and we care for our minds by allowing them to rest.
In other words, do not over-work yourself, in any pursuit. The most successful people often spend 3-4 hours per day on the most important thing. The rest of the day is for other things. Perhaps busy-work, to-do items, or even just inspiration and rest.
Be mindful of the diminishing returns that come from forcing things.
Think differently about your work
In the book the Artist’s Way, Julia Cameron describes her belief that we are vessels through which a creative energy flows. That we need merely to return to our craft, day after day, and allow ourselves to be a conduit for the divine energy that comes through our bodies, our hands, our voices, and manifests into a work of art. What a comforting thought.
Imagine that, if we are truly vessels, we merely need to return again and again to the work, and allow ourselves to be open. There is no pressure to create perfection. The quality of the craft is honed in the practice, and the output is pre-destined. We can chose to separate our egos from our creation, and consider ourselves midwives, assisting in the birth of something separate from ourselves.
Consider the artist Shakira. She knew she wanted to be a performer since the age of four, and yet was rejected for choir in the second grade and told her that her voice sounded like a goat. Thankfully, she persisted, and today is one of the most successful performing artists in the world.
Her voice is unusual, hauntingly beautiful. Part of that is her – her hard work and persistence over the years. And yet she did not choose to have her voice, anymore than she chose to be born on this Earth. She is a vessel through which an incredible energy has been encouraged to flow, and the result has changed the world.
What would your life look like if you were purposeful about your creative pursuits?
If you had a plan for feeding your mind with growth and inspiration, caring for it by planning times to rest, and viewed at yourself as a vessel for divine creation?
What would you be able to bring into this world?