Nine years ago I launched this blog. And each year, for the past nine years, I’ve been celebrating, congratulating myself, offering folks all sorts of discounts, free downloads, and the likes.
I think I wrote and published well over a million words by now. Probably even more. Who knows? Who cares?
After all, the blank page that I have to fill right now with words doesn’t care about my previous articles, short stories, or novels. All it cares is that I transform its emptiness into something worth someone’s time.
This is what being creative means: to turn the white page, the blank canvas, the empty document into something by sheer power of will, which is, at times at least, quite a painful process.
And don’t believe anyone who tells you that being creative can be effortless. They are trying to sell you something, whether it’s an e-book or e-course.
After nine years as a full-time blogger, and sixteen as a writer, I can tell you that there’s no shortcut for hard work.
That’s why today I’m sharing with you nine tips that… well… I’m not even going to pretend these tips are going to make the process effortless, but they are going to give you a bit of clarity, which I found to be extremely useful, especially when you’d much rather bang your head against your keyboard than struggle to string words together in a coherent manner.
- Don’t rely on inspiration. Do the hard work of going after inspiration rather than wait for it to come to you. — I don’t write because I am inspired. I write because I am desperate enough to go after inspiration with all I’ve got. I feed my brain with information, then I walk around my house like a madman, thinking about ideas. And guess what? Every single day I come up with more ideas than I can write about. My feet also hurt.
- It’s easier to build habits than it is to reach goals. — Goals are nice to write down and read them out loud while staring in the mirror, but that’s about it. Habits, on the other hand, are going to help you build momentum until you become an unstoppable force. Nowadays, after 9 years of daily blogging, not sitting down to punch the keys is more mentally discomforting to me than just bleeding words on a computer screen for an hour or two.
- Don’t just think outside the box. Think like there’s no box at all. — Being creative means being brave enough to constantly venture outside your comfort zone. It means connecting dots that are not even on the same plane.
- Use your time wisely.— I say no to almost everything in life. Seriously. We usually over-estimate just how much work we can do in a single day, and we find ourselves wishing for a couple more hours when the clock strikes midnight. Don’t do that. Make the act of creation a priority and you will either find the time or make the time.
- Don’t be so serious. — This is an obvious one, but it’s well worth mentioning. Whenever I take my work too seriously, I have trouble writing. I begin to think that I’m laying a gold egg, not doing the same thing I’ve always done: writing some words. If you don’t have fun, you are going to come up with a lot of excuses on why it would be best to postpone everything until tomorrow, next week, or someday.
- Look for ways to become more effective. — There is no shortcut to being more creative, but you can develop a framework that you can use, and then you can also use the power of habits. If a system works for you, it becomes second nature.
- Take care of yourself — Whenever I don’t get enough sleep, or whenever I am hungry, angry, or both I struggle to write even a single sentence. Taking care of the basics matters a lot: get enough sleep, eat well, exercise, be mindful of who you spend your time with.
- Keep the promises you make to yourself— One way to beat the inner critic, to silence the voice of doubt, or to get rid of the dreaded writer’s block is to keep yourself accountable. That’s it. If you promise yourself to write five hundred words per day, that’s what you have to do. Don’t talk yourself out of it. Think of it as a do or die situation and you will certainly do.
- Curiosity might have killed the cat, but it saves the artist from creative bankruptcy — The creative is someone who’s always looking for their next idea. There’s so much beauty and inspiration in the world, if only you step outside (yourself, your house, your comfort zone) and look. That’s all you have to do. Be awake, truly awake, and try to be alive. That’s what being a creative means.
Ultimately, the most important lesson I’ve learned about being creative is that we must do the work, and in order to do the work, we must stop believing that creativity is magic or religious in nature.
Being creative is like having any other job: you are what you do, not what you say you will do, so stop trying to explain what you are with words, or come up with excuses, and just use that time to create.
Most days, when I wake up, I don’t want to do the work. I’d much rather sleep for another hour or two. Or sit in bed and watch TV shows with my girlfriend. Or mindlessly scroll through social media.
But every single day, no matter how I feel, I get out of bed, walk over to my desk, and start punching those damn keys like a madman.
Because you are most creative when you trick yourself you’ve got no other choice but to be creative.
If you made it this far, I’d like to thank you. For being part of this community. For reminding me that my words matter.