For almost a full year, I was going through a phase of creative block. While you can argue that there is no such thing (and I do believe we can always work towards being creative at any point in time), I was experiencing a lack of inspiration, motivation and excitement for creative projects in general. A creative block can hit us at any point, but we can minimize it. Let’s go back to the basics of knowing how to maximize creativity for the projects we want to produce — whether it’s a blog, business, podcast, book, or side hustle.
In the end, it’s all knowing why and how you want to be a creator and culture maker. Here’s how I strive to maximize my creativity.
1. Know that you are made to be creative.
It doesn’t matter if you are building spaceships or dabbling in Photoshop. You were made to bring creations into the world. And you were made to do it in your very own unique way. Don’t let any of the voices around you say that what you are doing doesn’t matter or that you shouldn’t be pursuing your passions. Your passions are there for a reason, and tapping into them will bring you closer to knowing what you are capable of doing and creating.
I want to say to all the creatives who have been taught to believe who you are is not enough for this world, taught that a life of art will amount to nothing, know that who we are, and what we do is life. When we create, we are creating the world. remember this, and commit.”
– Nayyirah Waheed
Related: What is Your Creative Calling?
2. Allow for idea flow.
Generating ideas is where creativity begins. Ideas grow from other ideas, which means we should have creative influences around us – podcasts, favorite authors, speakers, diverse groups of friends, books, etc.
My largest sources of inspiration are:
- Listening to podcasts while driving (which does make it hard to write down my ideas–whoops!)
- Reading new books and underlining my favorite parts
- Looking through old photos of things I experienced in life, places I’ve traveled and friends I’ve made
I also like to have a place to continuously and easily jot down notes and ideas for creative projects. I am so, so glad I found Evernote and have actually began using it! It is a wonderful tool for me to have easy access to my notes for my blog, Bible studies, social media planning, grocery lists, etc.
We can be inspired by many different things, and it’s our job to connect our thoughts to what we see around us.
Creativity is just connecting things. When you ask creative people how they did something, they feel a little guilty because they didn’t really do it, they just saw something. It seemed obvious to them after a while. That’s because they were able to connect experiences they’ve had and synthesize new things.”
– Steve Jobs
3. Work in collaboration.
You maximize creativity when you sit in a group of people and share life and business ideas together. Join a team of professionals in your area and make regular meetings, especially those who are working on creative side hustles outside of their regular 9-5 job. It can be intense to be working around the clock, so take a step back and process your side hustle operations with a group you trust.
4. Develop a habit of delaying gratification.
We all want something. And we all want something right now. Success. Followers. Likes. Friends. Money. Fame.
But to be successful creatives, we have to delay this feeling of gratification. It takes hard work to achieve our goals, and if we only focus on the temporary satisfaction, we will not see the larger picture.
I’m working on putting my phone down, developing patience and knowing that what I create on the side will be purposeful in the end.
5. Take responsibility for both successes and failures.
We will fail in big ways and in small ways throughout our lives. While we work on our side hustle, we take risks — especially the risk that we cannot dedicate a full day’s work to this part of our life. A creative professional knows that she is responsible for both failures and successes for her business, blog or side hustle. She owns them. And want to know a secret? Most of the time the things that lead us down the wrong road, usually allow us to help others and make our businesses and blogs more meaningful.
That place of your deepest creativity—that place inside of you that can be a bit dark and stormy and confusing and hard to look at sometimes—this is where all of your potential for human kindness, genius, innovativeness, connectedness, child-likeness, imagination, curiosity, generosity, neighborliness, and love come from.”
– Allison Fallon
6. Find the right environment.
It’s sometimes hard for me to come home after a long day at work, and then jump right back on my computer to type up a blog post or do other routine tasks for my blog and other side projects. Sometimes I need that dose of creative energy from a coffee shop, or I need to clean up my workspace at home.
While I can’t yet afford to buy my own place with a separate space for a creative studio, it would be the dream!
Also, learn what types of environments work best for you. Do you need quiet and calming spaces? Or a little background noise? Or do you like stimulating places like coffee shops? For me, I do need a balance of both, but I find my quiet times are my most inspiring and productive.
7. Go for a walk and get back to nature.
Sunshine and fresh air. Oh, and you’re not sitting at a desk anymore! Get your body moving so that your mind can start moving in different directions, too. Often, I think of new ideas when I go for a walk around my neighborhood or around a park.
“Nature, of course, connects us back to that innate sense of having been created – of order and beauty and humility.”
– Shauna Niequist
8. Carve out a time in your day to work on your blog, business, or side hustle.
There is beauty in schedules and routines. Our creativity is important and deserves a spot in our planners, our calendars and to-do lists. Intentionally placing a block of 30 minutes or an hour in our day for creative projects helps us remember them every day. Plus, if we set a routine, we are more likely to follow it and let our side hustle grow.
9. Reduce the information noise around you.
You can’t produce quality work if you are distracted by every ping of your phone or if you have multiple tabs open reading everything from your favorite blogs, a video tutorial or ideas for your pets. This confuses our brains and doesn’t let them focus on the creative flow. There is such thing as too much information – and too much information can cause racing, anxious minds. Clear minds clear the way for creativity. I like to turn my phone off and put it in a drawer somewhere for a couple hours during my creative process.
10. Reward yourself.
At the end of the day, you are making something purposeful in the world, as a blogger, business owner or side hustler. You should reward yourself! Don’t always be so focused. Take time to do the things that really matter — investing in friendships, personal development, your family, education, relationships, healthy living, peace and mindfulness. Recognize that you have come far in your creative endeavors and that you should be proud!
I hope you consider these steps in making your creative process that much better. We can train our brains and open ourselves more to the creative spirit that lives inside of us.
We are full of creative energy and I can’t wait to hear how you put it to use!