I received an email last week from another writer, asking for some guidance. One of the things she remarked upon was this blog.
She wrote, “I’ve been reading your blog and you are really good! How do you ever come up with all that clever stuff?”
My response: I make constant deposits in my creativity account.
And believe me, I am well aware that some of my blog posts could win the “meh” award. But the point of my blog isn’t to produce grand and earth-shattering blog posts, anyway. It’s to encourage you on a (usually) daily basis.
To this person’s point – there is a reason why I am able to “come up with this stuff.” It’s because I invest in ideas. Here’s how I do it:
Reading tools to collate and curate content
I am a voracious reader. Not only do I have hardbound and paperback books throughout my home, but I have a growing library on my Kindle Fire.
Additionally, I follow a lot of people online and track interesting articles. I have the Zite app on my iPhone (love), which helps me get the most popular news articles for my particular categories.
I also have Evernote, which I use in collaboration with Zite. Whenever I read an interesting and thought-provoking article through Zite, I add it to my Evernote library, where I often will use it as a writing source.
Finally, I have Feedly, which puts together all of the blogs I follow under custom categories.
Filling my mind constantly with new, fresh ideas from others helps keep my own creativity account overflowing.
Disciplined creativity begets creativity
Many artists admit that if they waited for inspiration to hit before they created anything, they’d create nothing.
I’ve instilled in myself two writing disciplines. One is this blog, the other is my bi-monthly newsletter.
I force myself to do both.
There are days when it’s almost agony to produce something because I feel unmotivated or especially critical of any idea that comes into my head. But I also realize that quite often, I’ll push myself to create something and then it goes into a whole new direction, one which is… dare I say it? Inspired.
That is what a regimen can do for you. When you practice anything (and we’re always practicing), the more you do it, the better you’ll become. Anyone who creates, whether it’s the artist or the Olympic athlete, knows that it’s in those dark, sweaty moments of hard work done before dawn that prepares them for the standing ovations.
The hard work usually happens when no one is looking.
Putting those hours of hard work into practicing your art is making a deposit in your creativity account. The more you do this, the better your “deposits” will be until you reach the day when you’re rich with productivity.
Love, move, eat, pray
I make deposits in my creativity account by realizing that it’s not all about work. It’s not about constantly focusing on Copyblogger, keeping up with MarketingProfs or commenting on one of my numerous LinkedIn groups.
It’s about taking a break and absorbing life.
For instance, I adore my husband. But I also realize that I can be a workaholic when it comes to my copywriting business. I force myself to shut down the laptop when the day is done and connect with him.
And by “connecting,” I mean doing it without distractions. I set aside my iPhone and Kindle and give him full attention. I don’t have texting on my iPhone so I’m not trying to half-listen to him while carrying on a conversation with someone else.
I focus on him and delight in our conversations. I am living in the moment and it always provides rich rewards. My husband often is the inspiration for many of my ideas and they usually come hidden.
By that I mean that as my husband and I connect, I’m not thinking, “Okay, buddy… I better be getting a smashing good idea from all this talk!”
No. Extraordinary Ideas often come upon the coat-tails of the ordinary. After my husband and I are engaged in some discussion, suddenly a bright idea will appear and smack me upside the head.
It’s why I always have paper and pen nearby. Never know when one of those suckers will appear.
I also have fun hobbies and interests that are completely different from the topic of copywriting and marketing.
My husband and I will go hike at a nearby park or ride our bikes. The point is, I move away from my desk and computer and out into the world. I also move my body with these activities. I try to get in some movement each day, whether it’s exercising or dancing in the kitchen, but movement is important to me.
I love to cook and will experiment with different recipes, scouring the food blogs for inspiration. I share my successes and newest “recipe crushes” with friends.
I enjoy digital scrapbooking, using a program like Serif’s Craft Artist to create my own scrapbook pages with either my husband’s beautiful photographs or mine.
I also set aside time for meditation and prayer. For me personally, connecting with God, who is to me the source of all creativity, is vital in keeping that channel of creativity flowing.
The point is, creativity is a multi-layered thing. Whatever your passions may be, do them often. Many times, you’ll be inspired in other areas of your life. It helps to keep you a well-rounded person.
And that’s how you’ll keep your creativity account full. Actively look for ways to fill it so that when you need to make a withdrawal, you’ll have plenty left in the bank.