I had breakfast with a friend who is an incredibly talented musician recently. He’s working on his new CD and I asked him if he’d finished writing all the songs yet. He said that he was still working on it.
He then added he knew, based on his previous CD sales, that x was the right number of songs, and he still had a few more to write.
I said the inspiration might hit him at any time, and he agreed, saying that was exactly what had happened as he was working on his last CD. He said a few songs had come to him at the last minute.
Now let me back up to when he picked me up at the train an hour earlier. He looked like he could join the zombie apocalypse. Seriously, the boy was not right. He looked completely out of sorts, felt like he was coming down with the flu, and couldn’t remember the last time he had eaten a full meal.
Since he’s a friend and not a client, I couldn’t do my coaching thing and tell him self-care isn’t self-indulgent, it’s critical for creativity, problem solving, and success over the long term. (I did a TEDx talk on this topic)
But, as the editor of this blog, I can share with you how you can clear the way for creativity, and come up with your best ideas for your business.
Your physical body is part of the physical space needed for creativity. You will not get great ideas if you are not sleeping well, forgetting to eat, or remembering to move your body.
And creativity needs a place to land. If your desk is covered with stuff and you have 20 tabs open in your browser, I think creativity is going to go elsewhere.
Or even if it does find you, you may miss it.
If your brain is chaotic or has the same unhelpful thought on repeat, you may have trouble accessing creative inspiration.
I can’t come up with ideas for blog posts (or anything else for that matter) if my thoughts are on a spin cycle. I need to schedule in time to journal, write, and meditate so I can create some white space.
Impostor syndrome, perfectionism, and negative self-talk are things most of us will experience when we are trying to come up with new ideas, or work on a creative project. We’ll think about every failure we’ve ever had, and every accomplishment someone else has had that we’ll never match.
This can be so brutal for people that they never start a project – or never finish it so they can’t be judged harshly.
Please know that slumps happen. We all experience them.
Sometimes ideas and inspirations flow freely and you will need to carry around your phone or a notebook to capture all of them.
And sometimes you will have no idea how you ever came up with a good idea ever.
The trick is knowing that slumps will happen to you, and not “go there” – meaning to catastrophic thinking – when they do.
I absolutely loved this honest discussion by Elizabeth Gilbert and Chase Jarvis on slumps and the magic doing something mindless and physical can have for creative thinking. Jarvis admitted he was in a bit of a slump and had asked a friend if he could power wash his driveway later that day.
Jarvis was embarrassed about mentioning it on camera until Gilbert started gushing about how fun and therapeutic that would be, and suggested he take the week off and do a few people’s driveways.
Gilbert thinks that doing something with your hands, or something that’s physically mindless, is the way through creative slumps. She said that if she’s in a slump, she’ll call a friend to ask if she can come over to organize her kitchen.
If you want The Muse to visit you, you’ll need to get ready, tidy up, and wait and listen. You’ll also need to get yourself prepared physically and mentally.
If you do your work, she will come. And when she does, all this effort will have been worth it.