I was teaching my students how to schedule daily block time for the big creative work of their business when Kristin asked, “But what if your muse comes out at 3 in the morning.”
I answered, “Sounds like you have to train your muses.”
And that got me thinking about creativity… and the creative process.
What do you do when you’re staring at a blank page and can’t seem to get the words to flow?
How do you get unstuck when you’re trying so hard, but can’t seem to find the solution you’re looking for?
And how can you learn how to create on demand? Freely and joyously.
Well it all starts with the true definition of creativity:
Creativity is the art and science of making connections in your brain.
It happens when your brain has the space to relax, reflect and talk to itself.
So the question becomes, how do you support your brain in making connections and creating the space it needs to “talk to itself”?
1. FEED YOUR BRAIN
Well, first of all, your brain needs something to connect. It needs inputs.
The most creative artists and scientists of all time had a wide range of interests. They read voraciously and were students of all aspects.
The more you read, travel and challenge yourself to try new things, the more you fuel your creativity.
That’s why Murray and I spend about 3-months a year traveling and running our business from new locations.
And why I make it a point to read books, articles and novels, not just in my area of expertise, but beyond. Cause the more I learn, the more raw material I have to make new connections.
2. SCHEDULE A REGULAR TIME EACH DAY TO CREATE
Second, your brain needs the space to talk to itself.
I recommend scheduling daily creative block time. This could be one hour or three. Ideally, the same time every day, so your brain knows that this is your time to create.
Since creativity relates to relaxation, I’m most creative the moment I wake up… before I’ve checked email or even showed. If I got to bed with a specific idea for a blog post or training, I can often write it in the morning in less than an hour if I wake up, grab my computer and get to work. My brain is nice and relaxed, the idea has had time to simmer in my subconscious for awhile, and it just pours out of me.
3. BE OPEN TO CREATIVE INSPIRATION AT ANY TIME
While I love these morning blocks to create, the truth is that my best ideas often come while I’m out and about doing something else completely.
Driving, in the shower, cooking, talking to a friend…
That’s why I buy all my Mentorship students a beautiful notebook and a box of Aqua Notes, so they can capture ideas in the moment when they come.
I personally take notes for myself all the time. I find that once I have the idea, it’s usually pretty simple to create.
The biggest challenge people have is when they don’t have a clear idea of what they want to create.
I’ve created a course, Call to Adventure, to lead you through many of the processes I’ve created to get clear on your business.
4. COMPARTMENTALIZE DISTRACTION
The other day Murray asked me if I noticed all the dishes in the sink. He genuinely wanted to know if it bothered me. And, yes, of course, I did notice all the dishes in the sink, but I didn’t allow that to bother me or pull me away from what really mattered. You see, I had bigger better things to work on than the dishes.
And what I’ve learned to do in a busy and uncertain world is to turn certain switches off in my brain – like the dishes and all the other things I could spend my time worrying about, so I can turn other switches on – like creating something new in the world.
I’m not in denial or sweeping things under the rung, I’ve simply learned to control my attention and focus and choose where I want to direct it at any given time.
The dishes will get done. But it doesn’t need to pull me away from the more important work.
5. KNOW WHEN TO STEP AWAY… AND WHEN TO PUSH THROUGH
Creativity can only happen when your brain is relaxed enough to have the space to talk to itself (which is why step #4 is so important).
If you’re super fixated on finding a solution, this state of hyper-focus can prevent you from making new connections… and sometimes it’s time to step away.
Often I’ll go for a walk or a drive or hop in the shower and the moment I let go, the ideas and solutions come pouring in.
At the same time, research shows that the more you challenge yourself, the greater the potential for creativity since creativity expands when you’re doing new things.
I’ll do my best work when I give myself a daunting task and a tight deadline… such as creating a new training program or event in less than a week.
Oftentimes pushing yourself to do things before you think you’re ready is precisely what you need to get ready.
That’s why I teach my students how to take action in the face of fear, doubt and uncertainty.
Many times when I sit down to write or create, I’ll feel stuck and I won’t know what to do… for a few minutes.
And if I allow myself to sit in the discomfort and trust in my abilities, the creativity will come.
I may spend a few minutes reviewing my notes, or mentally engaging with the question or topic I’m working on, or even doing something quick and unrelated (such as answering an email) for a minute or two… until the gears start to turn.
6. TRUST YOURSELF
The temptation in those “stuck” moments is to give or walk away…
As entrepreneurs, we can twist ourselves into a pretzel trying to build something that’s never been built before (at least by us) and that can create a lot of frustration.
But the truth is a good challenge is exactly what you need to create your best work. Stick with it. You’re creative (everybody is) and you’re as ready as you’ll ever be.
The problem is that most people think about creativity in the wrong way. They think it’s this wild mystical thing that comes when it wants to come…
Kind of like this scene in How to Train Your Dragon where Hiccup first tries to train the dragon he ends up naming Toothless.
By following these simple steps, you can train your creativity to create on demand.
All you need to do is give your brain the space to talk to itself.
How do you get in touch with your creativity? Let me know in the comments below.
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Marisa – great points. Simple, direct, doable. I too read a lot of different things. Talking to people generates ideas also. Getting out and about definitely opens your mind to new connections. Oh – the dishes. Hey Murray – if they bug you, you could do them! (smile)
Virginia, yes, you better believe that I do them LOL.. 😉
First of all I make a distinction between inspiration and creativity.
Inspiration is beyond my control and shows up when it pleases.
Creativity on the other hand is making something.
Creativity is an action and I can do creative stuff regardless of whether I feel inspired or not.
Sometimes inspiration is kind and shows up when I happen to be writing and sometimes it doesn’t, then the writing feels more like work, but that doesn’t stop me from doing it.
And I wholeheartedly agree that if you show up consistently daily doing your creative thing, then inspiration has a much easier time finding you, cause you have already reported in for duty and are doing your creative thing…
Hi Marisa, thanks for sharing your 6 simple steps . . . I admire its clarity, simplicity and direct approach. As you ask for what I do to “trigger” my creativity, in addition to your steps, I think of alternative scenarios . . . Thanks again, you’re doing a great job!
Thank you for putting everything into such clear points. Unfortunately, I do get called by dirty dishes. To save myself from being distracted by things like dirty dishes I have a simple 20 minute 4 point morning routine..make my bed, wash my dishes, sweep my floor and clean my bathroom sink. The routine of cleaning allows my creative juices to start to flow and by the time I am done I am ready to create.
Great article Marisa. Since you mentioned reading articles, may I suggest my sister’s books? She got really creative in putting twists into 2 of the more famous Bible stories. tkthorne.com. 🙂
I love the way you are so creative in everything you do, Marisa. Being creative on demand is difficult for some. I am very creative in the late hours of the evening and sometimes in the wee hours of the morning. I do have a lot of time to watch what happens during the day, whether I am at home or out in the world. I tend to be the most creative when I am alone with nothing to distract me. No TV, no texting, no email, no talking on the phone, maybe while I am cooking or even preparing a simple meal. Also I am more creative when I am happy in my life or when I am on Vacation. Yes and a book to write things down is a must. I love the idea of the Aqua Notes. I had to immediately look them up on Amazon and book mark them. Thank you so much for always making me think of creating new ideas when I listen to your suggestions
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