It’s one thing to talk about creativity. It’s another to have to be creative as a part of your career and your lifestyle.
I asked some of my favorite authors, bloggers and writers the following question,
“How do you continue to be creative on a consistent basis?”
Here are their replies.
1. Warren Hammond
They say you should find a nice, quiet place. Find the right chair. The right lighting. Make everything just so. I say you’re wasting time. To be creative you need to do one thing and one thing only. Carve out a regular schedule to do your work, and rigidly adhere.
– Author of KOP and Ex-KOP, WarrenHammond.net
2. Matt Gartland
To be optimally creative on a daily basis, one must first become conscious of one’s own innate rhythms. Discovering such rhythms – such as sleep patterns, energy flows, mind hemisphere shifts – requires the absence of preconceived notions. All creative routines and recommendations aren’t created equal, nor are they created universally. Like your DNA, your optimal creative workflows are unique to you. So, do as a genuine creative would do: experiment. Try different sleep routines. Attempt different creative work at different times of the day. At all times, be alert to your feelings. Record them. Ponder them. And produce conclusions. As an editor and writer both, I find that writing earlier in the day is best to maximize both writing output and editing sharpness (which is reserved for later in the day). Bottom-line: self-examination is the only true course to engineering a harmonious creative rhythm.
– Founder of WinningEdits.com
3. Ali Luke
I write for a living, day in, day out, and I love it! To stay creative on a daily basis, there’s a few things I do:
- I have multiple projects on the go at once. That often means working on blog posts on Monday, my non-fiction book on Tuesday, my novel on Wednesday… and so on. If I just worked on the same thing all the time, I’d quickly get bored, and I’d start feeling tired and unmotivated.
- I deliberately set aside time just to come up with ideas. For my blogging, this means listing a bunch of different post topics or titles. For my novel, this often means sitting down with a notebook and pen and “thinking aloud” on the page.
- I get inspired by my readers. Some of my most popular posts are ones that grew out of a question that a reader asked me, and whenever I’m wondering if my writing is worthwhile, I just look at all the lovely comments and emails that I’ve had. Knowing that people are reading and enjoying my work is a great reason to keep creating.
– Author and Writing Coach at Aliventures.com
4. Joanna Penn
The more creative you are, the more creativity seems to flow. You just need to keep creating, whether you feel like it or not. Keep writing, even though it’s terrible and something good will emerge, or you can shape it in the editing process. Get started and then keep moving.
– Author of the ARKANE series, Blogger at TheCreativePenn.com
5. Andy Schmidt
It can be hard. I’m a creative person who loves stories. For me, I do two things — seek inspiration from art outside of what I’m doing. If I’m writing, I want to look at art or listen to music more than read. If I’m creating art (which I do a poor job at, but I love to do anyway) I may find inspiration from music of from prose. So inspiration comes from getting outside of what I’m currently working on. Don’t get me wrong, I don’t stop reading anything fiction while I’m writing, I just shift my focus to other things a bit.
The second thing I do is experiment. I want to try things I haven’t tried before. That gets my brain working, my passion up, and I get really excited about figuring the challenge out. For example, I’ve written a comic with only double-page spreads. So I got really excited about how I make that work as a narrative device, why would I do that–what story element makes that useful, and so on. It presented challenges to tackle and it was a lot of fun. And in tackling those challenges, I learned a lot too, so I had new skills and knowledge to add to my “tool box” as a writer. If I’m learning or experimenting, that keeps my energy up.
But when you’re asked to be creative every day, and I am, it can be challenging. I always have to find new ways to keep me passionate about what I’m working on.
– Former Marvel Comics Editor, Founder of ComicsExperience.com
6. Jeff Goins
Creativity is like a muscle. The more you use it, the more it grows. Like any discipline, if you continue to do it, it gets easier.
I find that the more creative work I do, the more creative work I am able to do. The more ideas come, the more I am able to start new projects, and so forth.
To be truly creative is to not be merely imaginative; it is to create. In other words, to be productive. If you’re not making stuff, you’re not being creative.
The best way to force myself to be creative, then, is to just start making stuff. Some of it’s good, some terrible. But the more I do it, the easier (and hopefully better), the work gets.
– Author, Blogger at GoinsWriter.com
7. Ollin Morales
I don’t think. I just do. So much of our creativity is conditioned to be repressed. We live in a time, unfortunately, where artists are not as respected as they used to be. Everything is very industrial. We only care about art if it makes money. But not all art does so. So, since there is no guarantee in terms of a monetary result, art is relegated to the background for many, and relinquished for more “lucrative” careers. The artist’s creativity is repressed. Therefore, the best way to get rid of all that negative conditioning that is holding a creative person back is to not think at all. You see, all the negative conditioning is in the thinking. So, in order to keep myself creative, I don’t think about it. I just do it. I always remind myself that it’s the thinking that is getting in the way of my creativity. The truth is I can always be creative. I always have tons of new ideas. Creativity is constantly flowing from all of us. What’s stopping us is the “cork” of our minds that keeps all the lovely juices inside of us stagnant. So, pop the cork — and let the wine flow.
– Author, Blogger at TheCourage2Create.com
8. Sean Platt
The answer is in the question. I’m creative on a consistent basis BECAUSE I’m creative on a consistent basis.
I’ve built my business in a way that it’s impossible for my mind to get lazy. Yesterday’s Gone comes out every week. As soon as that series goes on hiatus, a new one starts. In this case, ForNevermore. So we are always writing, which means we’re always in creative flow.
Flow is easier to stay in than it is to find, so the key, at least for me, is staying inside it as long as I can. Forcing myself to write several thousand words a day, no matter what, does it for me!
– Co-Author of Yesterday’s Gone
9. Patrick Ross
When I drove across the United States in 2010 interviewing artists of all types for short films about creativity (http://www.youtube.com/patrickrossfilms), I asked each one how they found time to be creative. Every artist I interviewed–whether a novelist, painter, filmmaker or musician–responded with the suggestion that being creative was as essential as breathing. Each was living an art-committed life. No matter what other obligations they faced, they made time for creativity. Clearly I had a fascination with the subject or I wouldn’t have launched this journalistic project, but it wasn’t until I spent time with these artists and experienced the joy they projected that I realized I was not living an art-committed life. I had been neglecting my muse. It’s been a little less than two years since that trip, and during that time I have carved out time each day to grow as a creative writer. I began a low-residency MFA program. I started submitting to literary journals. I focused on reading voraciously. When I find myself inclined to skip a day — to surrender all of my time and creative energy to obligations of work and family — I remind myself of the life balance my interview subjects found. They are a daily inspiration to me, and as such help me stay on my new path of an art-committed life.
– Author, Blogger at The Artist’s Road
10. C.S. Lakin
Creativity to me is like a flowing source we cannot force or control but is spurred on by our interaction with life and the world around us. So it requires contemplation of and immersion in living. Often as writers we press out thoughts, ideas, images as we write but don’t spend any time refilling the well, nurturing our spirits. For me, taking a daily walk just contemplating life, listening to music, or observing nature without really thinking will help refill the creative well. And then a couple of times a year when I am seriously burned out and dry, I might take a week and go backpacking or camping, shut my mind off, not read at all, just live. The “doing nothing” seems unrelated to inspiring creativity but it actually does a lot. It, in essence, reboots my creative wheels so that when I return to my keyboard or notepad, I am more clearheaded and imaginative and the ideas flow again. Sometimes it’s just a matter of my brain being tired out and needing a break. Also, in some simple way, changing eye focus really helps—moving from staring at a close-up keyboard to looking out into far distances and vistas.
11. Rob Anderson
If I need to recharge my creativity, the most important thing I can do is relax. That might involve walking the dog or going for a swim. Or it could involve returning to some of my favorite works by other people (whether they are prose, poetry, movies, or comic books). Sometimes I may just let those stories wash over me. Other times, I may be trying to understand why I loved them so much. But the key for me is relaxing and getting my mind off “trying” to be creative. I’ve had some of my best ideas when I was on a vacation, mini- or otherwise. When I’m relaxed is when I’m most likely to have that inspired idea.
12. Paul Allor
There’s a couple of things I do. First, I try to constantly seek out sources of inspiration. Sometimes it can take the form of fiction or poetry, sometimes music, and sometimes art. These all serve different purposes. Great fiction can challenge and inspire me, while lousy fiction often contains a seed of a great idea, which I can alter, spin off and build upon. Music can set a certain mood, or create a mental image around which to build a story. And art provides a wealth of amazing ideas, particularly since I work in a visual medium. Whenever I go to an art museum, I take a pen, a note-pad and (if allowed) a camera, and leave with at least a half-dozen ideas for future series and stories.
The other thing I do is make a great effort to make sure my writing is structured. I make to-do lists, I aim for a specific page count and I set goals and benchmarks. Then when I sit down to write, I write, regardless of whether or not I’m feeling creative or inspired. Sometimes what I write is garbage, but that’s okay. If I keep plowing ahead, then creativity usually catches up with effort. And on those rare occasions when it doesn’t… well, at least I have some rough notes to revisit next time.
13. David Wright
So far, I’ve been blessed with more ideas than time to write them all. I notice that one of the surest ways to get more ideas, is to simply get out and do things. Whether taking a walk, when you normally drive, or going to new places, or meeting new people, all of these fuel more ideas. As a writer, it’s easy to become insulated to the world around you. You have to force yourself out of your comfort zone from time to time.
– Co-Author of Yesterday’s Gone from Collective Inkwell
How do you keep your creativity alive? Please share in the comments below.
Waterfall image provided by enor