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Controlling creativity: 5 tips for managing inspiration

Does your creativity keep you up at night or leave you blocked?
Posted by on February 8, 2014

Day 10 of 30-day blog challenge. Read day 9 “Social Media Limit”


Does your creativity keep you up at night or leave you blocked?


We makers know that when inspiration strikes we might be dead asleep or butt-naked in the shower. Actually, I think the connecting theme for those two situations is the idea of relaxation. The mind reels when the body relaxes.  But, in an industry where freelancers and independent makers (from writers to photographers and anyone who creates something) struggle to constantly create and improve, how can we slow down enough to manage creativity?


I’m sure I’m not alone in having lists of great ideas for novels, plays and songs. I have half-written grocery lists and incomplete Pinterest boards with recipes to try. Making creativity mind a schedule or come at convenient times often means stifling inspiration and stagnating in your production of art.


1. Listen to other makers and watch people who create

One of the best ways for me to get inspired is by watching and paying attention to others in my industry or similar fields. I enjoy not only writing but also music. Quite often I remind myself that my husband teaches guitar and if I could just carve out a few more hours a day I could accompany myself in songs where I only have lyrics. When I take the time to watch an open mic poetry and music event, I find myself thinking, “Oh, I know I could do that!” I feel like my goal to compose a song made of a few chords and moving lyrics isn’t that far off. I get inspired, and I go home to practice changing chords to my poem’s pentameter.

Listening goes for any medium and any business field as well. If you’re trying to control creativity, you are trying to make your ideas flourish and work for you. When the ideas come all-or-nothing, you can too easily become overwhelmed or burn out.


2. Controlling creativity by relaxing

This idea of controlling creativity and managing inspiration means taking dedicated time out to nourish your thoughts. A healthy mind might still wake you at 3 a.m. to start writing the exposition for a character. But, by taking time to relax your body and mind on a regular basis you allow for refreshing. A solid nap in your car during lunch time can mean a terrific blog post after dinner.


3. Don’t take people who create personally

Don’t let any person or any thing defeat you in your journey. Children start out so eager to please and so dedicated to imagination that adults look on with amazement. What changes is when we allow other people who create to knock us down. Sometimes, even letting others’ thoughts of your work inflate your ego can be damaging to your creativity because you feel like you have too much to live up to. Just know that your process is a journey. Take the compliments with the rejection and listen to not only those around you but also your heart. Your art and your process will dictate how best to manage your creativity.


4. Stay social to stay inspired; share

This idea is similar to the idea of going to an open mic and thinking to yourself that you could do the same things with more practice. There is nothing wrong with engaging and admiring other creative people’s art and writing. By acknowledging what you sincerely like, you tell your own sense of creativity how to innovate. I’m sure a quote or two exists speaking to the difference between good artists who borrow and great artists who steal, but I cannot recall the author at this moment. Share what you like, what inspires you and invite those in your network to see more than just your content, but what’s in your mind.


5. Have a breakable routine

We humans are very much creatures of habit. I can tell you how my mind deteriorates without my schedules, but those schedules stay flexible because I freelance and have to be able to rearrange my time. Even with this 30-day blog challenge I don’t have the luxury of a set time to create. I manage my creativity by thinking ahead, using a blog calendar and constantly writing down my mental notes. I quite often run dripping from the shower to write down a golden idea for a blog, but I control creativity by allowing myself a routine for structure with flexibility to stay creative. I realize this simply isn’t possible for artists and writers with full-time jobs, but as much as possible balance your routine with flexibility.

This last idea really gets at the heart of how difficult it is to be a freelance professional. The flexible jobs that we love are juxtaposed against an inability to depend on a single source of income or a solid routine. Life doesn’t have to be all-or-nothing. We can live in the moment while staying both grounded (as in a schedule) and open to inspiration (as in flexibility).


No matter what happens in life, with work or to the ones you love, know that stagnation or writer’s block doesn’t mean you have to abandon your creative works. Just pick the pen, paintbrush or guitar back up and start when the inspiration hits. You can control creativity and allow inspiration without suffering from a need to work nonstop. Take breaks. Love yourself. Feel your energy, then create something magical.



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