How to Make Your Creative Shift

For the past couple of years, I have been working with small groups of writers and artists to develop a process that I call the Creative Shift. This is where you move past a creative rut and feel lit up about your creative vision and writing. Today, I want to share two things with you:

  1. I want to share the three-step outline of the Creative Shift process that you can use on your own.
  2. I want to invite you to work directly with me and a group of 10 other writers and creators in my Creative Shift Mastermind.

This is a step-by-step process to gain greater creative clarity, establish routines to write and create more easily, and understand how to create a plan to better reach your audience. In working with thousands of writers, I have found that to truly move ahead, you need to take these three actions which comprise the Creative Shift process:

#1 Get Radical Clarity

One challenge that many writers face is that they are overwhelmed with ideas on what they want to create, and all that they are told they have to do in order to publish and market that work. In all of the interviews I have done with successful creators, in all the work I’ve done directly with writers, and in my own experience: success requires radical clarity. For you to choose one thing and double-down on it more than anyone else would.

That’s not a simple process, because it requires you to feel that your choice is authentic to your vision, and that you aren’t saying “no” to the wrong things. People tend to resist Radical Clarity because they want to keep all of their options open. Yet, again and again, I find that once you have a single clear vision of what you want to create and why, you feel an incredible sense of freedom.

I have a lot of exercises to work through this with people, but I’ll share just one here.

Consider the effect that you want your writing or creative work to have in the world. This can be the effect on your life, or that of others. Avoid mentioning accolades such as “bestseller” or “award-winning.” In fact, make this as small and specific as possible. If you are writing a novel, what is your greatest hope for it? How do you want it to effect a single person? Maybe it is to give someone hope, or a respite, or to get them to consider their own lives in a new way. Write that down. Then, consider this: if I told you that if you were willing to do the work, that this effect is guaranteed. You wouldn’t fail. With that in mind, take out a sheet of paper, and write down a 1-line prompt for yourself. Something like: “What if my novel would truly give someone hope?” Hang that somewhere where you will see it every single day. Challenge yourself to give that prompt more room in your life.

#2 Hone Your Creative Process

Living up to your radical clarity begins with your craft. Writers write. Yet, so many people I speak with struggle to find the time or energy to write. They get distracted by other important responsibilities in life. They feel adrift, unable to create with any kind of routine.

I want to encourage you to become a student of your own creative process. If you want others to take your work seriously, then you have to be the first to do so.

Here too, I have a lot of exercises I work with people on, but I’ll share just one right now. Identify the smallest possible action you can take on a daily or weekly basis to create. An action so small that it would be nearly impossible to not do it.

Creative routines don’t require setting huge goals and then pushing yourself to meet them. Instead, you want to develop muscle memory where it becomes easier to create than to not create.

The metaphor I like to use here is to begin with a single pushup. I think I may have heard this once on a Tim Ferriss podcast in terms of getting in shape. Don’t start with some huge workout routine. Instead, once a day, drop to the floor and try to do one pushup. Then move on with your day. At first, you probably won’t be able to do it. But after 4 or 5 days, you will have a nice rickety pushup. You will feel stronger. Then in 14 days, you will have two, and so on.

The trick about this is that it is too easy to not do. You can do this pushup anywhere: your bedroom, a hallway, a conference room at work, in your backyard. It takes less than 5 seconds. It requires no special tools or fancy outfits.

If you develop that one anchor habit, it is dramatically easier to develop it further.

The same goes for your writing and creative work. Start with something small just to prove that you have control of an otherwise scary and unwieldy challenge.

#3 Change Someone’s World

Once you have a sense of what you want to create and a creative process to do so, the next step is to consider how you can share it in a meaningful way. How your creative vision can change someone’s world.

Now, this is typically where people talk about marketing trends and social media. Forget about all of that.

Instead, consider the simplest way you can engage with someone in a conversation about themes that are within your writing or creative work. This does not have to be a conversation about your book or yourself. Consider what question you can ask someone that would lead into this conversation.

I actually wrote a whole book about this topic, Be the Gateway, that is filled with exercises and examples. Here I will simply say this: too many writers get sidetracked by “email list building” and “Amazon algorithms” and “social media followers.” Instead, I want to encourage you to consider how you can engage a single other human being in conversation about the themes that make up your creative vision. Make it about them, not you. Ask questions, be curious about how something in their life relates to these themes.

#4 Don’t Do This Alone

I’m adding a fourth step here: don’t do this alone. As much as possible, involve others in each step. I find that when you collaborate with others, you learn more about your vision, your process, and how those things can connect with the world.

If you want to work with me on all of this, consider joining my next Creative Shift Mastermind which begins October 1st. This is a 3-month program where me and approximately 10 other writers become your support system, brainstorming partners, and the team of collaborators that you have always dreamed of.

I have spent the last three years running this Mastermind with small groups of writers and creators. The results have been magical. Again and again, I have seen friendships formed, professional collaborations forged, and more than anything: people breaking out of ruts in order to truly move ahead with their writing and creative vision.

You can find full details on the Creative Shift Mastermind here.

In want to encourage you to invest in your creative journey, and imagine what could happen if you doubled-down on what lights you up inside.

Thank you.

-Dan

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