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We Fail Creatively Because We Often Don’t Work When We Don’t Feel Creative

For someone doing creative work. The writer. The artist. The musician. The designer. And so many others…

We are encouraged to always be thoughtful and engaged and caring.

To be inspired and fueled.

But as someone trying to create, I find that sometimes I need to shut off the depth. To forgive myself if I don’t feel inspired every moment of the day.

That sometimes, you have to shut off the thought.

Shut off consideration.

Shut off vision.

And just do the boring hard work even when I don’t feel inspired.

Just do the boring hard work, regardless of that tugging feeling in my gut questioning if it’s the right direction.

Just do the boring hard work when no one pays any attention.

Just do the boring hard work when I have zero motivation.

Just do the boring hard work – in rote, almost mindlessly – because that is the only way to keep momentum going.

I am not one to often recommend being mindless, to work without spirit. Because I have such as respect for being present. For caring. For giving.

But I find that the habits which create the foundation for creative work require me to show up.

Everyday.

On the wonderful days when my head is screaming “Yes!” And also on the apathetic days when my head is screaming “No!”

That there are only a certain number of fueled creative hours in a day. I have heard the number as three or five of these hours, but imagine it is different for everyone. And then so many hours left over which are filled with distraction.

The hours where it becomes easier to check email, to check social media. To want to react rather than create. Because reaction removes the need for initiative.

As I speak to more and more people who are mid-life, mid-career, and fighting hard to turn creative vision into reality, I am coming to a conclusion: That oftentimes we fail creatively because we don’t work when we don’t feel creative. Because we only want to work if we are convinced of the vision at every moment. If the world validates our ideas at every moment.

And that is rarely the case.

Okay, back to work…

  • Myrrh Davis

    I had no desire what so ever to write today. My day job was draining my mental energy and my creative spirit. But, I wrote a darn good blog post today anyway. And you know what? It wasn’t hard at all. I completed my first draft in about 30 minutes. An hour or so later, I went back and completed my edits. Tomorrow, I will look at it one last time before posting it. Now, when my writing day is over, I see your post and think, yeah, I really can do this blogging thing. Just like I do my day job – whether I feel like it or not.

    • Myrrh,

      Thank you for this. I often find that the anxiety of a simple task is dramatically greater and sucks up more emotional energy than actually just doing the task. Just sitting down, doing the best I can, and getting it done. I’m so glad you got something out of this post.

      -Dan

  • I’ve found that if I’m sticking to the rote script, and forcing myself to forge on, I will usually get creative half-way through, scrap it all and get something I really like. But it takes that initiative of starting when I don’t feel like it to get to that point. Great Post! I’ll be sharing 🙂

    http://forthisisthetime.com

    • Thank you Esther! Yes, I will often just do a quick start for a big project to get over the hump. EG: a single slide for what needs to be a 100 slide deck.
      Much appreciated.
      -Dan