Whether you’re just getting started freelancing or are employed full-time, writing “on demand” can be terribly difficult.
Does this sound like you sometimes?
• Waiting for inspiration that just isn’t coming
• Finally hitting your creative stride… only to realize you have a meeting in 15 minutes
• Barely making deadlines because you’re struggling to get into the creative zone when you most need to
You’re not alone. Being able to turn the creativity spigot on and off is something all of us creative professionals struggle with at some point in our careers. It’s essential to find a way to harness creative energy and tap into it when you need it.
I’m naturally more creative at night and I don’t know if that will ever totally change. However, a few big changes to my workflow have helped me tap into the creativity I need during normal business hours. Not only does this work better for my clients, it enables me to have a personal life instead of being holed up in my office working odd hours. Win-win.
Here’s how you can start channeling your creativity when you need it most.
1. Develop a (good) habit
Get your brain and body in the habit of sitting down at a specific time to work and be creative. Working in the middle of the night wasn’t ideal for my life or for my clients, so I trained myself to develop a creative and focused mindset during certain times of the day.
I started by blocking off two two-hour windows a day for creative writing. During each creative session, I silenced my phone, closed my email and social media channels, and focused solely on the task at hand. After about a week of sticking to this schedule, I realized that my brain started to “tune in” during these times. I no longer needed a warm-up (see tip #2) to get into the flow and I found that I was much more focused.
Try blocking off one or two “creative sessions” during your day and keep at it for at least a week to develop a good, creative habit.
2. Train your brain
Sometimes your schedule just won’t allow you to stick to your dedicated creative time. So, take a cue from Pavlov and his dogs: develop a creative ritual to get ready to write.
One option is to start with a “fun file” before diving into more serious, professional work. A fun file is whatever you want it to be — an ongoing story or a writing prompt response — but most importantly, it is a no pressure zone to get yourself into the creative mindset. Work on this fun file for five to 15 minutes before switching to your “real” work.
Eventually your brain will start to associate the fun file with being a precursor to real work and you’ll be able to seamlessly glide into serious work straight from your fun file at any time of the day.
3. Take the power away from “The Muse”
I don’t know about you, but I’m not too keen on having to wait around for other people — inspirational muses included.
A lot of creative folks get stuck on the idea that they need to feel inspired in order to produce creative work. I get it. When those ideas and words are just flowing out of your brain it can certainly feel like divine inspiration. But in reality, you’re discrediting yourself as a creative professional when you give too much power to the muse.
Remind yourself that you are the one producing the great creative work. You are the one who worked hard to get here. The more consistently you work on creative projects, the less you’ll even think about that finicky muse. Get into the habit of creating on your own terms and you’ll never sit around waiting for inspiration again.
How do you find inspiration and creativity when you need it most?